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Is Harry Giles worth the risk?

The 2017 NBA draft is set to take place on June 22. Fans will finally find out answers to questions like what Boston will do with their first pick and where Lonzo Ball is headed.

This draft class is loaded with talent. Names expected to be called early on are Fultz, Ball, Josh Jackson, Jayson Tatum, De’Aaron Fox and Malik Monk. All of them are one-and-done freshman who expect to make an impact at the NBA level now.

One name from that class we thought would be going high a couple years ago is Harry Giles. Giles was the No. 1 recruit by ESPN coming out of high school. Many scouts projected him to be the No. 1 pick of the 2017 NBA draft.

However, injuries to both of his knees have caused a set back for Giles. He played limited minutes in his only season at Duke and has taken a dive in the mock drafts. NBA personnel just don’t want to use a high pick on a player with as rough an injury history as Giles.

Giles is projected to fall to the middle of the first round now. Whichever team takes him will be asking themselves this question: is Giles worth the risk?

The answer? You bet, and here is why.

Early Years

Giles was recognized at a young age as a talented athlete. However, his injuries caused him to miss a lot of his time in high school.

Giles suffered his first knee injury while playing with USA Basketball’s under 16 team in 2013. The 15-year-old Giles tore his ACL, MCL and meniscus in his left knee. He had surgery on it and sat out his entire sophomore season.

Harry Giles draft
Giles was the top player in one stacked recruiting class. (Photo by Jon Lopez/Nike)

Giles returned to competition in the summer and reminded everyone just how talented he is. He participated in EYBL’s Peach Jam event and with Team CP3.

During his junior year at Wesleyan Christian (N.C.) Academy, Giles lead the team to a 30-5 record and averaged 23 points, 11 rebounds and three assists per game.

He continued his success into that summer at the Peach Jam and the EYBL circuit. In 23 games, Giles averaged 18 points, 11.4 rebounds, 1.7 assists and 1.3 blocks and also shot 54.4 percent from the floor.

The 17-year-old Giles also dominated with Team USA at the FIBA Under 19 World Championship in Crete. Giles averaged 14 points and 10.6 rebounds per game and won gold.

Giles transferred to Oak Hill Academy for his senior season, but would only play in one game. Giles tore the ACL in his right knee during the first game and sat out the rest of his senior year.

Giles had already shown the world what he could do with the time he had. He signed with Duke and was expected to be available at he start of his freshman season with the Blue Devils.

One and Done

Giles did not get to start playing at the beginning of the season as he hoped. Before the start of the season, Giles underwent an arthroscopic procedure on his left knee, which is the one he injured first. There wasn’t an injury, but Giles wanted to have the procedure because he felt his progress had plateaued.

Harry Giles draft
Giles played limited minutes at Duke this past season. (Photo by AP Photo)

The surgery revealed a particle preventing Giles from progressing. Coach Mike Krzyzewski compared it to something like a drain clogging. Giles felt relief and was ready to continue his progress. However, the surgery forced Giles to miss the first 12 games of the season.

Giles made his debut December 19 against Tennessee State, playing just four minutes with nothing to add to the stat sheet. His minutes progressed over the next several games. However, Giles only broke 20 minutes once, as Duke did not want to overwork him and risk another injury.

Due to the limited playing time, we really don’t have any substantial numbers of film to look at. Giles best games was perhaps his 10 points and 12 rebounds in 17 minutes in a blowout win over Georgia Tech. His season averages of 3.9 points, 3.8 rebounds and 0.7 blocks certainly don’t reflect his talent. His per 40 minutes averages of 13.6 points, 13.3 rebounds and 2.3 blocks better reflect his talent.

After his freshman season, Giles declared for the draft.

NBA Potential

Giles definitely has the size for the NBA. Giles measured in at 6-foot-11 and 232 pounds at the draft combine. He has a 7-foot-3 wingspan, standing reach of 9-foot-1 and boasts the biggest hands in the whole class.

Harry Giles draft
Giles injury history is definitely a concern amongst NBA personnel. (Photo by Lance King/Getty Images)

The big question continues to swarm around Giles: can he stay healthy? Let’s take a look at some players who have been in a similar situation and how they panned out.

Fellow Duke Blue Devil Kyrie Irving missed significant time his freshman year due to a toe injury. Despite the small sample size scouts got to see, Irving still ended up being the No. 1 pick in the draft and won rookie of the year. He is also playing in his third straight NBA Finals and making significant contributions to his team.

Joel Embiid also suffered back and knee injuries in college. He was taken third overall by the 76ers, but didn’t play a game until his third season because of injuries suffered in his first two years. His season this year was also cut short due to an injury.

No one has had quite as rough of an injury history as Giles though, making it tough to find a perfect comparison. We have seen guys like Greg Oden struggle to stay healthy who had no injury history in college or high school. Former No. 1 pick Derrick rose has also struggled with injuries. His health also didn’t become a problem until he got to the NBA.

Brandon Roy, a young promising NBA talent, had to retire after five seasons due to multiple knee injuries. He tried to make a comeback a year later, but only played in a five games due to another knee injury. Not everyone has a success story after nasty knee injuries.

However, Shaun Livingston does. Livingston had one of the worst knee injuries you can imagine. After a nasty fall years ago, Livingston tore his ACL, PCL and lateral meniscus, sprained his MCL and dislocated his patella and tibio-fibular joint. Livingston is obviously back to playing since then and has been a key contributor for the Golden State Warriors. He is not the most talented player in the league, but he still overcame an awful injury. 

The Verdict on Giles

The injuries definitely bring up a legitimate question mark. Why risk a pick on a guy with injury history when you can draft a perfectly healthy player?

Giles will most likely fall to the middle or later part of the first round. There are multiple teams with more than one first-round pick. One of them can spare one on a player like Giles.

If Giles does stay healthy, he could be the biggest steal of the draft. He is a top five talent that will be available in the middle of the draft. He was at the top of this class coming out of high school. The talent and size are there. The guy can ball.

Any general manager who has a second or third pick in the first round should strongly consider taking Giles. The reward is so high that it outweighs the risk.

Featured Image from Scout.com

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