When the Sacramento Kings season officially kicks off, the eyeballs of the NBA community will undoubtedly be fixed on second overall pick Marvin Bagley. However, the Kings have another first-round draft pick that has flown under the radar: 20th pick in the 2017 draft Harry Giles.
The 6-foot-10 power forward/center has been smashed by the injury bug during his basketball career. He tore his left Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) in 2013, and after a long recovery period, he tore the right ACL in 2015. Despite this, the immense talent Giles has shown on the court still resulted in draft night success.
With a long-term career in the league in mind, the Duke University product was forced to sit on the sidelines for the entirety of his original rookie campaign. Now, he is healthy and ready to be unleashed upon the league.
If his preseason form is any indicator, Harry Giles will be one of the most impressive rookies in a draft class that is bursting with potential.In his three exhibition outings the big man has averaged 15 points, 6 rebounds and 2 assists, all in a tick over 22 minutes per night.
For the majority of his successful offensive possessions, Kings head coach Dave Joerger has deployed Giles from the elbow. With a raw, gangly frame, the big man would be eaten alive if he was stationed in the low post, so working from the elbow inwards gives him the best chance to maximize his impressive athleticism and mid-range jump shot.
When Giles receives the ball on the corner of the free throw line, he uses his guard-like handle to get into satisfying post position, or his sweet stroke to punish defenders who lay off him. He has even shown a knack for making the pretty pass to his cutting teammates.
When things aren’t going his way on the elbow, Giles has shown the ability to stretch the floor all the way out to the 3-point arc. He has only attempted three triples throughout his NBA taste test, but he has buried two (66.7%) of those attempts.
Defensively, Giles needs some work, but he is far from a finished product on that end. His main downfalls are being late on rotations or simply far too out of position to make an impact at the rim. His 119.8 defensive rating is a testament to the steps that need to be taken on the scrappy end of the floor. Although big men often take longer to develop into solid defenders, Giles should improve with each bit of experience he sinks his claws into.
With athleticism, size and a pretty shooting stroke, there is no reason Giles shouldn’t garner major minutes – and touches – for the lowly Kings. Wins have been hard to come by in Sactown, to say the least. They have failed to win over 35 games since the 2007-08 season, and haven’t graced the playoff stage since Mike Bibby led them there in 2006. Adding Giles to the young and exciting core of Bagley and 2017 lottery pick De’Aaron Fox might finally give the Sacramento faithful a secure route back to competitive basketball.
When speaking with the Sacramento Bee’s Jason Anderson, Dave Joerger sounded excited about the Kings’ budding core:
“We know where we want to get to and where we want to be,” he said. “It just takes time. The fun is in the journey, and this is a year that there’s a lot of heavy lifting. There’s a lot of development that needs to occur and there are going to be some pains in it, but the fun part of it is we have good guys who work hard and play hard, and they’re fun to be around.”
While Harry Giles will likely be a name that takes some by surprise in 2018-19, he will have plenty of rookie competition among hoop heads- especially the big men. First overall pick DeAndre Ayton was a man among boys in college, and has beasted his way through the preseason too. Fourth pick Jaren Jackson Jr. has a unique blend of 3-point mastery and defensive prowess. Even Giles’ teammate Marvin Bagley III could be something special if he puts it all together.
Nonetheless, Giles has all the tools to push these giants in the race for Rookie of the Year, he just needs to stay healthy. That is much easier said than done when you have two surgically repaired knees by age 20, though. When he makes his official NBA debut in just a few short weeks, Giles will become the sixth player in the league’s history to play after tearing both of his ACLs.
Outside of Sacramento, nobody is talking about Harry Giles. Don’t be surprised if that quickly changes when the season starts. The redshirt rookie is already good, and he has the potential to be an elite NBA big.
We see you Mr. Giles. Keep doing your thing.