Even the most devoted Brooklyn Nets fans — those who have watched every single second of this season (even when they shouldn’t,) those who devour box score after box score — wouldn’t agree on much. Much except for who’s been the best Net to date, strictly on a per-minute basis.
That honor belongs to Harry Giles III; if you’ve stuck around to the end of every blowout, win or lose, you know why. Giles has only played 17 total minutes this season, but he’s scored 20 total points. That’s a Wilt Chamberlain-like 42 points per 36 minutes, first in the NBA across players who’ve played at least two minuscule minutes this year.
Harry Giles played six minutes tonight, his first NBA action in over two years. He scored seven points: pic.twitter.com/lX8MNtBzBY— Lucas Kaplan (@LucasKaplan_) November 11, 2023
Now, while those numbers are incredibly fun, they don’t mean much, though it is one source of Nets fans’ incessant calls to increase Giles’ minutes despite the excellent play of the centers ahead of him. However, his play does indicate one thing: that Giles’ teammates and coaches who have sworn by his work ethic, by his commitment to staying ready to play, weren’t lying.
Why would they be? Why would the 25-year-old stop now? When Giles checked into Brooklyn’s November 10 loss to the Boston Celtics, it marked the end of a two-year absence from NBA basketball, during which time he suffered his third ACL tear, yet another season-ending injury that threatened to terminate his time as a professional athlete.
Well, maybe from the outside looking in. Giles, in his words, merely needed some time off to recuperate before
doubling tripling quadrupling down on his NBA prospects. The Brooklyn Nets signed him this past offseason, and boy are they thrilled with their decision.
“I think there’s overall an appreciation that in a situation like Harry’s, you’re still hooping and you get to play again,” said Jacque Vaughn in October. “And I think it hopefully sends a message to our other guys like, ‘Don’t take this thing for granted.’”
Giles, however, is no charity case. Yes, an end-of-bench role means being a relentlessly positive teammate, occupying cheerleader-status most nights. That’s just the job description, no matter the team. But that doesn’t mean Giles, a legendary five-star recruit, can’t still hoop.
Said Vaughn. “Harry hasn’t played because we have Day’Ron [Sharpe] and Nic [Claxton]. Other than that, he’s good enough to be in the game, he’s good enough to play...everyday he comes in to do his work, and with a smile on his face.”
The rave reviews haven’t just come from his head coach, though. Per Lonnie Walker, “That mofo got game. It’s only a matter of time before he can earn more minutes and show his talents.”
In Brooklyn’s most recent win, a 124-97 throttling of the Washington Wizards, Giles scored eight points in just four minutes off the bench. In postgame, Mikal Bridges spoke for nearly two minutes about how Giles stays ready for the 12-9 Nets, and it tells nearly the whole story.
“I mean, that’s just the mentality. Most guys would sulk if they know they’re not playing and stuff like that. And he’s just, you know — his attitude is great every day. You just wouldn’t think he had a bad day, and he works so hard. He’s in that gym working. I feel like I’d be the last guy that’s leaving the facility because I get treatment and all that his stuff, but it’s not even close. Like, he’s one of the last guys to leave and always coming to dripping sweat. I just see him out there working hard.
So man, just his energy and just his vibe, you know? He’s just a great dude, you know? That’s just one thing too, he’s just happy and just brightens the room, and we all love him and just have fun. But you know, we know what he can do and know what he’s capable of, and he continues to work and wait for his moment. You know, it’s not easy to do. Obviously, it sounds easy, but it’s not, and a lot of guys can’t do that. Shout out to my boy HG. He works hard and waits for his moment, and you know, is always cheering his teammates on and staying confident when he’s ready. And he’s a great teammate.”
Following another well-deserved celebration of not only Giles’ character, but his talents, he and his teammates boarded a plane to Sacramento, where the Nets will kick off a West Coast road trip against the Kings on Monday night.
Giles spent the first three years of his career as in SacTown after being drafted at #17 overall in the 2017 draft. He missed his entire rookie season due to injury, appearing in 104 games over the next two seasons averaging seven points, including 17 starts. Now, those numbers don’t scream ‘franchise legend,’ but is it any surprise Giles endeared himself to the franchise and the city?
Sacramento!!!!! Y’all mean so much to me, I can’t even put it into words! Purple Heart 4L. Thank you for the warm welcome home. https://t.co/sEE9wQAToF— Harry Giles III (@HGiiizzle) May 1, 2023
Clearly, the feeling is mutual, and Giles’ return to his first NBA home on Monday night will be another personal landmark in a season full of them. Over the weekend, Giles expressed his feelings about returning to the Golden 1 Center (G1C), and excited may be understatement:
Back in G1C tomorrow I been manifesting this moment for a long time! Can’t wait to see Royalty! 916 it’s up tomorrow. Come seee meeee #purpleheart— Harry Giles III (@HGiiizzle) December 10, 2023
In any case, Giles has done everything and more to earn this homecoming, both on the court and off it. It was a process that started long before he threw on a Nets jersey, and his road back is by no means complete, but it’s off to a strong start.
Now, if Harry Giles can get some minutes on Monday night and hear it from the Kings’ fanbase? All the better.