Was is a word that was thrown around a lot for Harry Giles leading up to the 2017 NBA Draft.
Scouts, Draft experts, and media members alike were constantly referring to Giles by saying how he was such an explosive player, how he was one of the most promising talents, how he was a transcendent type of player that could be a cornerstone for a franchise.
Those “was”’s used to be “is”’s before major injuries began to hamper the perceived potential of Giles.
In high school, Harry suffered major knee injuries in both knees and another knee procedure forced him to miss the first 11 games of the season as a freshman at Duke.
Prior to the injuries, however, there was little doubt Giles was going to be anything short of a basketball superstar.
He was tabbed as one of the most dominant big men in the nation in high school, with his versatile offensive skillset and defensive prowess drawing early comparisons to NBA stars like Chris Webber, Amare Stoudemire and Kevin Garnett.
Sam Vecenie of Sporting News recalls watching a 17-year-old Giles play and how remarkably ahead of the curve he was.
“I laughed and remarked to a friend (and media colleague) that Giles would be wasting his time playing high school basketball over the course of the next year,” Vecenie wrote. “He was that ready to come in and dominate the college game.”
Two ACL tears, an MCL tear, and a torn meniscus later, Giles has seen his path to the NBA take a largely different direction than what was first expected.
Once touted as a potential first overall pick, Harry saw his stock drop during his time at Duke as he battled back from his most recent surgery. Though he did play in 26 games as a freshman, Giles struggled to find his groove in his role of off the bench.
However, through the disappointment and adversity that comes along with athletes who encounter injuries – especially to the degree that Giles has – hope remained.
That hope has taken form as potential of what Giles can be. The Sacramento Kings recognized that potential and acquired him in a Draft Day trade which send their No. 10 pick to the Portland Trail Blazers for the No. 15 pick, Justin Jackson, as well as Giles, who was selected at No. 20.
“I know what people mean when they talk about adversity,” Giles told the Sacramento Bee following being introduced among his fellow rookies at a press conference at Golden 1 Center. “It’s been a journey. Three surgeries (one arthroscopy) in four years. I guess the only good thing is that I’m young, and because I went through it once, I knew what to expect when it happened again.”
Now that the pressure of seeing when he will be Drafted and where he will be playing is off of his shoulders, Harry’s focus shifts to turning those was’s into is’s – becoming a player who is such an explosive athlete, who is one of the most promising talents, and who is a transcendent type of big that could be a cornerstone for a franchise.