The title of this post is misleading. It would be extremely unfair to fully evaluate Harry Giles at this point.
After missing the first 11 games of the season with yet another surgical procedure in one of his knees (this one considered minor), he has logged just 40 minutes so far.
That said, 30 of those came over his last two appearances, against Virginia Tech and Georgia Tech, and a little bit clearer a picture has started to materialize the longer he stayed on the court, at least with regards to which areas of his game have been affected by the time he’s missed in recovery.
From an athletic-standpoint, Giles does not look to have been severely impacted by his injuries up until this point.
He’s not gotten stiffer, proving himself able to bend his knees to get low in a stance, guarding both on and off the ball.
Giles has also shown no struggle sprinting up and down the court and he continues to move quite fluidly reacting in half-court defense, showcasing his mobility helping-and-recovering in pick-and-roll coverage and coming off the weak-side in help-defense.
And he’s back bouncing off the ground with extreme ease, displaying his impressive leaping ability controlling the glass. Giles still hasn’t developed a lot of core strength despite his 240-pound frame and can get pushed around at times but plays with a ton of energy tracking the ball off the rim and has a nine-foot-one standing reach to high-point it, collecting 26.1% of opponents’ misses when he’s been on the floor so far this season – according to basketball-reference.
On the other end, Giles hustles for boards with as much intensity and has a seven-foot-three wingspan to rebound outside of his area. He’s collected 34.7% of Duke’s misses when he’s been on the floor, a number that will regress but that should remain above average and will make him a huge asset to what already is a really good offense. More impressively, perhaps, is the fact that his second-jump is also back this quickly, though he’s converted just 16.7% of his putback attempts (per hoop-math) due to his touch on non-dunk finishes.
His vertical explosion is the one asset of his athletic profile that doesn’t appear to be totally back yet. Granted, Duke has yet to throw him proper lobs up high in the third floor, though Giles has proven he can get up in a pinch and adjust his body in the air in the couple of instances when a guard tried to connect with him but didn’t lob it up well enough.
But on the other end, Giles is yet to use his athleticism to make plays at the basket. He is making his rotations but looks rusty with the details of rim protection, at one time in the game against Virginia Tech failing to put his body in between the opponent and the basket. Giles was not a volume shot blocker in the previous level but the fact he is yet to block a shot in his 40 minutes on the court is a bit of a head-scratcher. And he’s fouling a ton, currently averaging seven personal fouls per 40 minutes.
Giles has struggled with his skill level in his immediate return to the court.
Duke does not play a pick-and-roll heavy offense, so it hasn’t provided him many opportunities to dive down the lane with momentum and get some easy baskets that way. What it’s done instead is force feed him in the low post – he’s posted a 27.6% usage rate in his 40 minutes of playing time – and the results have not been great because he’s clearly still working his way back.
Giles has gotten decent enough seals in the mid-post and goes to work on getting his preferred right-handed hook over the defender’s left shoulder, as he’s yet to show a power move or a fade-away jumper. His footwork is quite fluid and he’s flashed a bit of a hesitation move on the turnaround to freeze his defender but his touch has been so-so, as it’s also been the case on non-dunk finishes near the basket. Giles has missed 14 of 21 shots so far, all of them within close range on layup, dunk or hook attempts, and he’s earned just two foul shots so far.
He had a really nice pass out of the low post in the Georgia Tech to Jayson Tatum but has just two assists in his four appearances, mostly because no opponent has feared him enough yet to double team him. Giles has also not been used helping facilitate offense from the high post.
He was a capable outside shot maker in AAU ball, even flirting with three-point attempts, but has been hesitant to take jumpers so far. There were a few times where he’s caught the ball with time and space to launch them and looked at the basket as if he was thinking about doing it but then passed it up to a guard. He is also yet to dribble drive from the perimeter, something he flashed the ability to do in AAU, when they even flirted with setting ball-screens for him.
Editor’s Note: Rafael Uehara is the managing editor of ‘Basketball Scouting’. More of his work can be found here or at RealGM, where he is a regular contributor. He can be followed on twitter as @rafael_uehara