First-Round Candidate: Harry Giles
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ID CARD: 6-foot-10½ power forward/center, Duke, freshman, 19 years old
DRAFT RANGE: Ranked 33rd by DraftExpress.com; 12th by ESPN.com; seventh among power forwards by NBA.com
SCOUTS LOVE: If NBA teams have a reason to believe Giles’ knee troubles are behind him and he doesn’t present any greater risk of catastrophic knee injuries than any other player, then there’s much to like. Giles has – or had, at least, before ACL tears in both knees – breathtaking athleticism and elite defensive potential as a shot blocker with the lateral quickness of a point guard. Scouts never saw that Giles at Duke, where he averaged less than 12 minutes a game while recovering from a lesser knee procedure that idled him for six weeks. Giles, who worked out for the Pistons on Saturday, said he’s 100 percent now and was when he was cleared to play at Duke, but admitted there was never a time when he played with the free-flowing confidence he’d exhibited in earning the ranking of No. 1 in his recruiting class.
SCOUTS WONDER: Giles tore not only the ACL but also the MCL and sustained meniscus damage to his left knee in 2013 after already establishing himself with USA Basketball. In fact, his first knee injury was sustained during the 2013 FIBA Americas tournament. He then tore the ACL in his right knee in the first game of his high school senior season. The procedure he underwent at Duke last fall was to his more seriously injured left knee. In addition to health concerns, there are questions of Giles’ fit in today’s NBA offense. Before knee injuries sapped – or temporarily muted, at least – his explosiveness, Giles dominated at the rim with quickness and leaping ability. There was never a need for him to develop a battery of post moves or become a proficient jump shooter.
NUMBER TO NOTE: 32½ -- That was Giles’ maximum vertical leap as measured at the NBA draft combine in Chicago last month. There’s nothing wrong with that, necessarily, but it was bested by the likes of Thomas Bryant, Nigel Hayes, T.J. Leaf and Tyler Lydon – all power forwards who aren’t thought of as especially explosive athletes. Giles doesn’t have the shooting range of a Lydon or Bryant or a polished package of post or mid-range moves of a Leaf or Hayes. NBA personnel evaluators not only will have to project how prone Giles will be to future knee injuries or how fully he can overcome the ones he’s already sustained, but also how a 19-year-old who’s never had a need to diversify his skill set will be able to polish his game.
MONEY QUOTE: “It just takes time. It’s tough because you haven’t played in a while and at the same time you’re trying to trust yourself and trust your body and trust your knee, that it’s going to hold up. You have to be patient with yourself, trust your work and just go from there.” -- Giles on Saturday after working out for the Pistons
PISTONS FIT: You more or less throw out the depth chart with a guy like Giles. If Pistons team doctors – and you can bet they’ll go every minute detail of his medical records to gauge his status – sign off on Giles, he’d be a different type of player than anyone else on the roster. His appeal as a defender would be the versatility to guard all types of NBA frontcourt opponents, from post-up centers to stretch fours. Would he offer enough on offense, though, to be able to play alongside Andre Drummond or, for that matter, any other center? As a center, does Giles project as an asset rolling to the rim in pick-and-roll sets or is he no longer the explosive lob threat he once appeared to be.
BOTTOM LINE: Rolling the dice on Giles gets easier the deeper you get into the draft. If the Pistons were sitting where they drafted last year, 18th, it would be an easier call to take Giles, give him plenty of D-League seasoning and more time removed from his second ACL rehabilitation and see what you’ve got. The upside is considerable. A fully healthy Giles projects as an impact defender who could – if the dynamic quickness that set him apart from other big men can be fully recaptured – also wind up contributing offensively even before he rounds out the rough edges of his game. But the Pistons are drafting 12th and there are likely to be prospects available to them that offer more certainty – or address a more dire need on a roster in need of shooting punch.