Before ACC Tournament play started in Brooklyn last week, a lot of chatter buzzing around the Duke basketball team centered on Harry Giles. Specifically, would Giles elect to enter the 2017 NBA Draft at the conclusion of a challenging freshman season?
“Do you think he will actually go pro?” “I mean, is it worth the risk?”
Who knows what Giles will decide to do after this season. There is still a lot of basketball left to be played, anyway. However, at the completion of Duke’s four-day surge to the conference championship, those questioning Giles certainly had a different outlook on his presumed readiness.
Giles played just 45 total minutes in wins over Clemson, Louisville, North Carolina and Notre Dame. However, in limited time, he flashed the gifts that not too long ago turned him into a prep prodigy — before injuries pushed him off track.
With under six minutes to play in the tournament semifinals, Duke clung to a five-point lead against North Carolina. The Tar Heels had the ball, and Justin Jackson went to work on Grayson Allen on the block. As Jackson spun for a right-handed hook shot, Giles swooped in from the help side and started a fast break with his rejection.
Following the denial, Giles sprinted the length of the floor, easily outrunning Kennedy Meeks and slamming a lob from Allen that mid-sequence seemed ambitious.
This type of end-to-end two-way play is what Duke fans had envisioned of Giles all season. Giles’ body simply has not allowed him to play at that level over the course of a full game, which is truly unfortunate.
In the confines of the Barclays Center, Giles attempted 10 shots. He made seven of them. Five of his makes were assisted layups or dunks. Giles made just one shot that came from more than an arm’s length away from the hoop.
On the defensive end, Giles blocked six total shots against Louisville, UNC and Notre Dame. In the victory over the Tar Heels, Giles recorded a block rate of 19 percent. This means that Giles rejected nearly one-fifth of North Carolina’s two-point field-goal attempts while on the court. To put that in perspective: According to KenPom, Liam Thomas of Nicholls State leads the nation in block rate at 14.9 percent.
Small Sample Fun
Giles has played just 285 minutes across 24 games this season. In ACC play, he averaged just 12.8 minutes per game. It is tough to extrapolate too much from Giles’ numbers, but there is stuff in here that should inspire confidence.
According to Synergy Sports, Giles has found success as a cutter. The freshman shoots 88.9 percent and scores 1.7 points per possession on cuts. Of ACC players with at least 20 possessions used via a cut this season, that ranks No. 1 in the league.
As a roll-man in ball-screen action, Giles has even less experience. However, in a limited sample, the rookie has shown a touch of goodness. Per Synergy, Giles has connected on five of six field-goal attempts on rolls this season.
It is safe to say that after his ACC Tournament performance, Giles was pleased with his time in Brooklyn. A week prior to Duke’s conference title, the Blue Devils suffered a loss at North Carolina, where Giles was serenaded with “overrated” chants by parts of UNC faithful, much to the chagrin of Roy Williams.
— Harry Giles III (@HGizzle1) March 12, 2017
Duke, according to FiveThirtyEight, has a seven percent chance of winning the NCAA Championship. Giles could be a major factor for the Blue Devils, too; if he could give them 10-15 solid minutes per game, it would really add something to the rotation.
Only Giles and his camp know whether or not he will enter the draft following this season. If Giles decides to bounce, you can bet money that one of the 30 first-round selections in June’s draft will be used on him. He has shown enough in quick bursts to warrant consideration. Plus, the NBA team that selects him knows it does not have to rush him into action, knowing they control his rights for the next four seasons.