Duke freshman Harry Giles has declared for the NBA Draft. The Brooklyn Nets could get a huge reward by taking a chance on the one-time top-ranked prospect.
Since the All-Star break, the Brooklyn Nets have been playing roughly .500 basketball, posting a record of 11-12. For many, it’s been quite the surprise; after entering the All-Star festivities with a record of 9-47 the Nets seemed to be going nowhere.
But, the recent decent play down the stretch has many Nets fans excited about the future, seeing young players like Caris LeVert and the recent development of Spencer Dinwiddie grow into their own in head coach Kenny Atkinson‘s offense.
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So, now only five games away from beginning the offseason, General Manager Sean Marks will turn to some standouts from this year’s college game, identifying ways in which he can use his two first round picks to his advantage come this June.
For the Nets, the two first-round picks (one from the Bojan Bogdanovic trade with the Washington Wizards and the other in a pick swap with the Boston Celtics) will certainly be in the mid-to-late 20s. But, it won’t shy general manager Sean Marks away from being creative.
Duke freshman Harry Giles, who before making his way to Durham, N.C., was seen as a sure-fire No. 1 overall pick, had quite a number of setbacks before playing at Cameron Indoor Stadium.
The Harry Giles many scouts saw at the 2015 FIBA Under-19 World Championship had teams buzzing. Men’s national team director Sean Ford recalled his potential, per Bleacher Report:
“The potential just looked endless. Casually hitting threes. Rebounding everything. Running the floor. Blocking shots. There weren’t any weaknesses.”
Giles’ skill set seemed endless. Coming in at 6’11” and 222 pounds with a near 7’3″ wingspan, the measurables on the soon-to-be 19-year-old product were outstanding for the modern NBA we all are accustomed to watching.
Giles ran the floor with ease, used his length and athleticism on the defensive end and showed his range beyond the arc, all things that have NBA GMs buzzing this time of year.
Yes, people, this is the type of player NBA teams tank their seasons for.
But, for Winston-Salem, N.C., native coming into Duke, the narrative was quite different. After tearing his ACL for a second time (his first back in 2013) just four months after he wowed so many at the World Championships, Giles’ confidence was shattered.
The crystal balls of many GMs around the league began to look fuzzy. The athleticism, the range, the length on the defensive end all became a mystery after seeing Giles play his freshman season at Duke.
In 26 games for the Blue Devils, Giles averaged 3.9 points, 3.8 rebounds while shooting 57.7 percent from the field in 11.5 minutes per game.
It was quite short of what head coach Mike Krzyzewski was expecting from the promising freshman. Yet, Giles decided to declare for the 2017 NBA Draft instead of attempting to resurrect his play at Duke and show why he’s deserving of a top-five pick.
“He is only beginning to scratch the surface of how good he can be on the basketball court. Harry has an exciting NBA future ahead of him and we are here to fully support him as a member of our brotherhood.”
It’s definitely a risky decision for Giles, but the security of first round pick money and the fact that this may be his only shot to secure it could be what’s drawing him in.
Then again, Giles can return to Duke for a sophomore season, show the country why he was deserving of a “tank for X” type of player, and get back to the level of play he showcased just two years ago.
So, why would Giles be an intriguing prospect for the Nets?
For starters, the Nets do their due diligence when it comes to injured collegiate NBA prospects.
Most recently, the Nets drafted Michigan product Caris LeVert, who having previously undergone left foot surgery in May 2014 and January 2015, had another procedure on his left foot in March 2016.
The Nets followed LeVert’s injuries closely, having great intel from team doctor Dr. Riley Williams III who performed LeVert’s most recent surgery.
The Nets were confident in selecting the talented 6’7″ guard, fully believing his recovery, along with a re-buffed Nets sports science and training staff, could work with LeVert to get him to full strength.
For Brooklyn, it would be a disservice not to do extensive medical evaluations on Giles, knowing recently that a string of injuries isn’t indicative on long-term problems. Brook Lopez, the longest-tenured Net, has been injury-free since his last setback during the 2013-14 season.
It’s been all systems go since.
Despite playing only 300 minutes this season at Duke, ACCSports.com’s Brian Geisinger is confident the value is there at the back half of the first round to select Giles.
Giles was projected as the No. 1 overall pick, which changed after his injuries. If a team drafting late in the first round can find a player who was once coveted as a rare prospect, then that becomes an incredible value find.
Geisinger notes that teams in the 20s are, for the most part, playoff-bound clubs, looking to find pieces that can add to the core group of guys, emphasizing Giles can be easily worked into a rotation, but is not expected to contribute heavily on day one.
However, for teams drafting outside of that range, there’s a premium on adding value. The San Antonio Spurs have sustained a dynasty for 20-plus years by finding players late in the first round — their annual draft vantage point — who can contribute.
For Marks, he’s been adamant the process will be a systematic one. While Giles is certainly not the player that immediately make an impact on the team, his raw talent and skill set alone is worth adding to this young core.
With the way Atkinson distributes his minutes among his players, with the most a starter getting is roughly 31-32 minutes, Giles’ slow and steady transition in the NBA may be best on a team where expectations are low, and the reliance on his skill set is minimal to start.
While a consensus pre-injury number one overall in the back half of the first round is enticing for the Nets, it may be exactly what they need to get them out of their draft pick ownership hole.
The Nets can’t afford to take a player whose skill set has been constant since being recruited by top basketball schools. The upside may not be there.
Yet, for a team like the Spurs, those late first-rounders are perfect pieces when the ceiling is a nice NBA role player.
However, for Marks and his front office, the upside of Giles may be too sweet to pass up, hoping their commitment to systematic development can allow Giles to grow into the player lots of NBA pundits thought he’d be.