Harry Giles is the most complex evaluation in the draft. There are many reasons for that. He played just 300 minutes during his freshman season (11.5 per game) despite coming in as one of the most highly-touted prep players in the nation. Injuries had everything to do with it. In 2013, Giles tore the ACL, MCL and meniscus in his left knee. In 2015-16, he tore his right ACL, costing him his senior season in high school. In 2016, Giles had a knee scope in October – just prior to the start of the season – which put a big dent in anything he was going to accomplish as a freshman at Duke.
So he did what he could. Donning a hefty left knee brace, Giles pushed through it. At his best, Giles is an athletic monster. He was just a shell of that at Duke. According to media reports, his knees have received a clean bill of health from doctors of various teams. Still, he’ll have to prove it on the court. That’s the reason his projections range from lottery-to-late first round. His per 40-minute projections are a tantalizing 13.6 points and 13.3 rebounds per game. And those would be him just scratching the surface of his immense ability.
At Duke, Giles was in the post most of the time trying to finish at the rim, and it was tough for him. At full strength, Giles is an effortless and powerful leaper but he didn’t have his full explosiveness. That showed up most in the post, where the most torque is put on a knee because of the pressure players put on those joints in backing a defender down, or boxing them out, or, on defense, holding their ground while being posted up. Giles wasn’t able to lean and then explode. On the flipside, in all movement-based actions where he was in space and there was little-to-no ‘leaning’ on defenders – cuts, transition, pick-and-roll – Giles looked great. As a matter of simply moving around the court and running full speed, he was close to his old self. That showed up in his shooting percentages.
In ‘banging’ actions (post-ups, put backs), Giles was 13-of-33 (39 percent).
In ‘movement’ actions (cuts, transition, screen-roll), Giles was 19-of-22 (86.3 percent).
At this stage he is not a jump shooter. He made 1-of-6 during the season. And that underscores the second part of his evolution; simply developing his skill set. He was supposed to get a good start on that for at least a season, but the knee pushed that timeline back. So he’ll have to work hard on his overall development in the NBA. Defensively, he was good in the few possessions where he had to get out to spot-up shooters. And he had good lateral movement. Even in his reduced state Giles could block shots, and he’d swat them away both his right and left hands.
The good news is next season will be his second season after ACL surgery, and that’s when almost every player experiences a big leap in production and comfort with the knee. From there, it’s about staying healthy and getting back on the road Giles was originally supposed to be on.
HIS BEST FIT
Giles’ ideal situation is on a team that doesn’t necessarily need him to be on the court in the 2017-18 season and can be patient with continuing to strengthen his knees while also developing his game overall. Giles has big upside, but it is likely to take some time to realize it. So the team that drafts him has to do it as a long-term play.