The Nets need luck, plain and simple. The seeds have been planted for the rebuild and there’s a culture in place, but the team doesn’t have a lot of talent and will be without its own pick for the next two drafts. Brooklyn needs a lucky break, something they haven’t had a lot of, to get out of the East’s basement.
That being said, the team does have two first round picks in what is being called one of the best drafts of the past decade. While it’d be nice to have a very good shot at the first pick in this Draft and a shot at a potential superstar like Markelle Fultz or Lonzo Ball, picking at 22 and 27 isn’t the end of the world. There’s an opportunity for Brooklyn to get some nice pieces at those spots.
It’s easy to be impressed with several prospects that could be available late in the first round, but there’s one that’s high-risk and high-reward. And if you’re Sean Marks, you have to wonder if Harry Giles is worth the risk.
He did it last year. The Nets GM moved into the first round of the 2016 Draft, trading away the talented Thaddeus Young to take risk on Caris LeVert, who three times had suffered a broken foot in college. It’s seemed to pay off so far. LeVert was a lottery talented player who dropped all the way into the second round is most mocks, all due to his injury history. Marks, and the Nets team doctors, cleared LeVert and made the move, first trading Young to get a first rounder, then choosing the 6’7” Michigan product.
Brooklyn would be faced with another enigma in Giles. The No. 1 high school recruit in the U.S. two years ago signed with Duke intending to be in the discussion for the overall No. 1 pick in this Draft. But there was an issue, remarkably like LeVert’s.
After tearing both ACL’s before college and having a third knee surgery before last season costing him 11 games, Giles is now projected to go in the 20’s. That’s right in Brooklyn’s wheelhouse.
If, and this is a gigantic if, teams can be assured Giles will fully recover from his knee woes and turn into the player he was projected to be, a team could get away with robbery in the 2017 Draft.
Specifically, for the Nets and Marks, this could be a risk you may be willing to take. The club is so far away from contending that if Giles doesn’t work out, it’s not going to cost them a shot at a championship. If Giles were to be healthy and be as impactful as he showed he could be, then the Nets may be on the fast-track back to relevancy.
Let’s dig into Giles game and see what we make of him.
For one, Giles fits the mold as a big power forward and even a small ball five in the NBA today. He’s listed at 6’11” with a wingspan of 7’3”. He can block shots and is (or was) an incredibly athletic player that can (or could) jump through the roof.
When contesting for rebounds, Giles meets the ball at the rim. In the below clip, even off of one foot, Giles gets in great position to follow a long rebound, corrals it, and puts it in nicely off the glass.
There is some question about how much he had recovered before he took the floor at Duke. It didn’t seem that he was as explosive as he was in high school. Whether he is going to get there of course is the issue. But that aside, Giles showed a nice touch around the rim and was able to play above it with some nice put backs, on occasion sneaking behind the defense for vicious alley oops.
He’s raw, and there is no denying that. The fact that Giles couldn’t become a staple of a Duke rotation that was at times out of sorts during ACC play was a testament to how far away he truly was as an NBA player, explosion or not.
He struggled to make an impact on the offensive end and picked up ticky-tack fouls on the defensive side. Was that rust or a lingering effect? The fouling could show nothing more than youth and immaturity. And he is 19 years old.
A team taking a risk has to hope he will develop good habits in a professional system and learn how to play proper defense. Giles does have great instincts as a help-side defender and can be a rim protector in smaller units as a pro. Watch here:
Giles keeps his head moving and reacts to a drive. While the Louisville player is dealing with his own defender, Giles is able to go up and bat the ball away, putting Duke in a transition opportunity.
Giles needs some help on the offense as well, particularly refining his jump shot ... if he does ever develops one. Giles did shoot nearly 60% from the field this year but he took few shots outside the paint. Moreover, he was a 45% free throw shooter showing that his mechanics have ways to go ... from anywhere.
Still, his post moves are solid and he’s shown that rare ability nowadays to hit a jump hook. He can get position down low, a sign that his knees may have more strength in them than people believe.
Giles has the athletic ability to defend out on the perimeter, a need that grows as bigs step out and shoot three’s.
Bottom line, this is about raw talent. There are questions, but the North Carolina native has it. With some luck, can Kenny Atkinson and staff develop him into a special player in the Nets spread out-and-attack system. Matching Giles up with Brook Lopez or a Brook Lopez “type” could work in a vacuum.
There are questions. Unlike LeVert, the Nets will have to rely on surgeons from outside the Hospital for Special Surgery. Marks admitted pre-season that knowing the Nets own foot-and-ankle specialist had performed a crucial procedure on LeVert gave the organization a lot more confidence to take the risk. But the HSS specialists, led by Dr. Riley Williams III, will get a look at Giles medical records before the Nets make any decision on actually drafting him. Williams is renowned for his work on athletes’ knees.
At 19, the sky is the limit for Giles, and with the Nets willingness to take chances on a player with Giles’ (or LeVert’s) history, he could be a prime target. If his knees prove to be strong enough to take on the pressure and mileage of NBA years, the Nets could be getting not just a lottery talent, but a No. 1 equivalent.
Of course, he is far from a lock to be a healthy player in the NBA. We have seen that knee injuries present the biggest risk in all major sports. Could it backfire on Marks and the Nets organization if he’s a bust? Sure, but at this stage in the rebuild, it’s all about risk.
All that being said, Giles did average 13 points and 13 rebounds (and seven fouls) per 40 minutes this season. There were also intangibles. When he was on the floor, he did make an impact. He had a nose for the ball and was able to clean up the glass for the likes of Luke Kennard and Grayson Allen.
If Giles is there at No. 22, or even No. 27, Brooklyn would be well-served to take a look at the nation’s once top recruit. Upside alone requires it.