Josh Giddey became the youngest-ever Australian to hit the NBA court but couldn’t prevent Oklahoma City Thunder falling to a season-opening 107-86 defeat to compatriot Joe Ingles’ Utah Jazz.
At 19 years and 10 days, Giddey started his first regular-season appearance in the back court alongside Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and turned heads at times with a mature performance.
The No.6 draft pick settled his nerves by opening his scoring account with an early runner off the glass and collected a team-high 10 rebounds.
He had an equal team-high three assists and finished with four points on two-of-seven shooting in 29 minutes on court.
Josh Giddey sets a new record for rebounds by a Thunder player in their NBA debut.
— OKC THUNDER (@okcthunder) October 21, 2021
Ingles, who mentored Giddey from afar during the teenager’s NBL Rookie-of-the-Year season with the Adelaide 36ers, came off the bench for Utah and knocked down four three-pointers from seven attempts.
Ingles tallied 14 points behind Bojan Bogdanovic (22) and Jordan Clarkson (18) for Jazz.
Melbourne-raised Giddey beat Dante Exum’s previous mark by 98 days as the youngest Australian to debut in the NBA.
He also became the third Australian player to start on debut, following in the footsteps of Andrew Bogut (Milwaukee 2005) and Ben Simmons (Philadelphia 2017).
Fellow Boomer Jock Landale began his San Antonio Spurs stint with a four-minute appearance off the bench in a 123-97 win over Orlando Magic, while national teammate Matisse Thybulle saw 27 minutes on court as Philadelphia 76ers put the Ben Simmons saga to one side with a 117-97 win over New Orleans Pelicans.
Simmons was suspended for one game after being sent home from practice for “conduct detrimental to the team”.
It was the latest development in a messy situation that has seen the former No.1 draft pick attempt to force a trade away from the 76ers, despite having four years left to run on his contract.
Furkan Korkmaz, who hit four three-pointers in the fourth period, and Joel Embiid both scored 22 points for Philadelphia.
Thybulle snagged four steals, taking him past 200 for his career, and scored two points.
“We’ve been practising hard,” Embiid said.
“It was good to kind of get off to a good start, get a win and kind of forget about the off-the-court stuff.”
Elsewhere, LaMelo Ball hit seven three-pointers to lead Charlotte Hornets to a 123-122 win over Indiana Pacers, finishing with 31 points, nine rebounds and seven assists.
The former NBL Rookie of the Year scored 12 points in a 24-0 third period run as the Hornets fought their way back into the contest after falling to an early deficit.
Julius Randle (35 points) and Evan Fournier (32) starred for New York Knicks in their 138-134 double-overtime win over Boston Celtics, who had Jaylen Brown score a career-high 46 points after overcoming a bout of COVID-19.
Fournier scored the go-ahead three-pointer in the second overtime period against his former team.