There are a few NBA Draft prospects with a higher ceiling than Duke freshman Harry Giles. There are also aren’t many prospects I feel more compassion for.
In a class that is being heralded as the best in a decade, Giles was once considered the crown jewel among this group of diamonds. It was Giles’ name at the top of the ESPN recruiting rankings for the high school class of 2016.
Despite the hype and obvious talent, at the end of the 2016-17 NCAA Basketball season, Giles wasn’t very productive for Mike Krzyzewski averaging a measly (3.9) Points Per Game while playing (11.5) Minutes Per Game as a Role Player.
Giles had a legitimate excuse for his performance this past season. Having suffered two torn ACLs over the course of 4 high school seasons, Giles was trying to play while returning back to his normal shape during his tenure at Duke and he couldn’t return to the form to contribute for the Blue Devils.
Giles made small progress at times, showing flashes of why Duke recruited the Power Forward and his potential in the NBA with a few thunderous dunks and light flickers.
As the NBA Draft is 48 hours away, Giles is a player that can be projected almost anywhere on the board. His injury history will scare teams away, but in the case of a team like the Hawks, taking a chance on a high ceiling player like Giles loaded with the physical talent and the potential to become a superstar is feasible.
Although it’s hard for many fans to fathom, Giles was once considered with a higher ceiling than Lonzo Ball, Josh Jackson, Markelle Fultz, Dennis Smith. If you’ve followed the prospect longer than his days at Duke, you know there’s a lot of potential for greatness.
When healthy, Giles compares seamlessly to a young Kevin Garnett, with nasty athleticism, the kind that had high school gyms packed with opposing fans that were excited to see him roll into town. He has the ability to step out and shoot from mid-range, something that he will have to make use of if he is to fit into today’s NBA.
Giles is also an excellent shot-blocker. His long arms paired with elite athleticism allows him to intimidate offensive players from almost anywhere on the court. Giles can also handle the ball effectively enough to be an above average post passer. He will need to learn how to rebound with more than athletic ability in the NBA.
All of the attributes that are listed on Giles’ resume come with an asterisk, he has to be healthy. This is why he could be sitting there at 19 when the Hawks are on the clock.
The risk is high if the Hawks were to pull the trigger on Giles, but the rewards could be long as the Hawks could steal a future face of the franchise or solid starter for the next 8-10 years. What more can a team ask for drafting that late in the first round where there are so many players each year that don’t even make rotations after their third or fourth year going that late.
Picking Giles would be a lottery tick purchase and honestly, it’s something the Hawks can afford after searching for a face of the franchise. Drafting Giles could provide some light for the former ‘Highlight Factory.’