Despite having only just turned 19 years old, Harry Giles has been on the radar screen for what appears to be forever. He made his first appearance at a USA Basketball camp at the tender age of 14, and quickly went on to gain in notoriety as one of the best prospects in all of high school basketball before tearing the ACL, MCL and Meniscus in his left knee at the FIBA Americas U16 Championship in 2013. Giles came back and established himself as one of the most coveted college recruits in the country with impressive performances on the Nike EYBL Circuit in 2014 and 2015, as well as at the U17 and U19 FIBA World Championships during those same summers, where he helped USA Basketball win gold medals.
His career averages of 23 points, 16 rebounds, 1.8 steals and 2.1 blocks per-40 minutes hint at the impact he made in the 78 games we have in our extensive statistical database, even accounting for his quiet season at Duke. After seemingly making a full recovery from his initial injury, Giles tore the ACL in his right knee in the very first game of his senior high school season in 2015. He sat out the entire year, missing the all-star game circuit where NBA teams traditionally get their first eyes on high school seniors, and then had another more minor (arthroscopic) surgery in late 2016 that delayed his collegiate debut until late December.
The late start, combined with persistent foul trouble and the fact that he was caught playing behind a fifth year senior in Amile Jefferson, who was among the most solid big men in all of college basketball, caused for a fairly underwhelming freshman campaign, in which he played just 11 ½ minutes per game. Duke's season ended in the NCAA Tournament Round of 32 in a surprise loss to South Carolina, and Giles' had very little impact on the game, going scoreless in nine minutes of action.
It's Giles' physical tools that made him such a devastating prospect to start with. He measured a hair under 6'11 in shoes, with a tremendous 7'3 wingspan, a 9'1 standing reach and a 222 pound frame that hasn't filled out as much as hoped (he weighed 218 as a 16-year in 2014) due to reasons that have been out of his control.
Regardless of whether or not his athleticism reverts back to what it once was, Giles has outstanding measurements that should allow him to play the center position with ease if he can find a way to put more bulk on his promising frame. Even without the same quick-twitch and powerful explosiveness that he showcased early on in his career, he's still an agile athlete who is light on his feet and mobile running the floor. There is a distinct possibility that he'll be able to shed the rust he was noticeably saddled with at Duke, and undoubtedly caused him to lose a step, which would elevate him into a different tier of prospect.
Giles was a fairly limited offensive player in college, averaging just 13.5 points per-40 minutes, the lowest rate among collegiate players currently projected to get drafted. Most of his touches came via running the floor in transition, as a dive man out of cuts and pick and rolls, and by way of the offensive glass. He covers ground nicely setting screens and rolling to the basket, and shows potential as a rim-runner with soft hands and the ability to finish seamlessly, as he doesn't need to jump very high to dunk thanks to his reach. Giles converted a very solid 61% of his attempts at the rim in the half-court, but unfortunately didn't generate all that many attempts, as he's heavily reliant on teammates to spoon-feed him easy looks, which wasn't going to happen very much on a Duke team that did not have a point guard on its roster.
NBA teams picking in the back half of the first round will be asking themselves just how much Giles can continue to develop offensively as he enters his 20s. He was an absolutely devastating force at the high school level using his tremendous athleticism and motor, but the injuries and subsequent lack of confidence that seemingly seeped in undoubtedly affected him greatly on that end of the floor. In the past, he was more of a factor on quick-twitch straight line drives, simple post-up actions, spin moves, and jump-hooks, and even made mid-range jumpers and his free throws at a much better clip prior to Duke (60% FT% as opposed to 50% in college). He seemed to have a decent foundation of skills to work with entering his senior year of high school, but all the missed game action, development time and mental hurdles have made that somewhat of a distant memory at this stage.
With that said, there are question marks about how that would have translated to pro settings regardless, as his footwork is poor, his ball-handling skills rudimentary, and basketball IQ is not where it needs to be at this stage. Giles plays the game very sped up and struggles to make decisions with the ball in his hands, relegating him strictly to the center position in today's NBA. He doesn't look like someone that is going to be doing much playmaking, as he's not a great passer, he lacks a high skill-level in the post, and doesn't look comfortable facing the basket, with a mechanical stroke that causes defenses to completely sag off him outside of ten feet.
While teams wait for Giles' skill-level to catch up, it's much easier to see him making an impact at the NBA level as a rebounder and defender, where his physical tools, toughness and competitiveness give him a distinct advantage. He's an active defender with a huge motor and the willingness to throw his body around in the paint without hesitation, showing the quickness to defend many power forwards, and the length and reach to be a factor from the center position, especially once his body fills out. He shows impressive spurts of rim-protection in small doses, averaging 2.3 blocks per-40, as well as flashes of versatility switching on pick and roll, bending his knees, getting in a deep stance, sliding his feet, covering ground seamlessly, and using his tremendous wingspan to bother jump-shooters on the perimeter.
With that said, all the time that Giles missed sitting out with injury shows up fairly vividly here as well. His timing, fundamentals, discipline, and understanding of the nuances of help-side defense are very much a work in progress, as he often looks a step behind the action. He takes bad angles on the pick and roll, shows poor awareness off the ball, is very handsy on the perimeter, and gets moved around in the post too easily by stronger players, averaging a sky-high 7.7 fouls per-40 (#1 in the DX-100).
It's important for Giles to be a sound defender considering his offensive limitations, and he certainly has the potential to get there in time, but his game is highly predicated on agility and explosiveness. How much of it will return as he continues to shed the rust from his injuries, and how likely is he to stay healthy long term? These are questions NBA teams will be asking their doctors and performance trainers, but it's unfortunately very difficult to predict.
Perhaps the best part of Giles' game is his rebounding, an area he can likely hang his hat on early on his career. He ranked as the fifth best overall per-minute rebounder in our Top-100 this season at 13.3 per-40, and has been even better than that on his career as a whole, averaging an outstanding 16. 1 rebounds per-40 in 78 DX database career games. He's quick off the floor, active pursuing loose balls, and goes out of his area regularly with his strong hands, long arms and impressive instincts, something that will undoubtedly be appealing to NBA teams.
It will be very interesting to see how NBA teams evaluate Giles going into this draft, as many of them openly admit they simply don't know all that much about him. He built up his reputation almost exclusively playing in competitions and events that they weren't allowed to evaluate in person, and his injury history, lack of track record, and relatively underwhelming freshman season at Duke have made him somewhat of a mystery in this draft class. A team with multiple draft picks, a strong medical staff and an appetite for rolling the dice outside of the lottery could very well be attracted to the upside that Giles possesses, as a complete return to pre-injury physical form could possibly make him a steal relative to where he ends up being picked. Teams will do quite a bit of research on his medicals and background to try and get a better feel for how likely that is.