Free Agency Preview – Harry Giles

By Matt Esposito

I’m rooting for Harry Giles to have a successful career more than I’ve ever rooted for anything in my life. (Well, maybe I’m rooting harder for Homelander to die, but we can assume everyone else is too.) A former top high-school recruit who has been plagued by injuries, Giles once more finds himself having to overcome the odds. The Sacramento Kings turned down his rookie option, forcing Giles to navigate free agency for his next

contract.Yet, there is reason to believe the big man still has a place in the league. Although his explosiveness comes and goes, teams can maximize his athletic profile if they properly manage his workload. The dude is skilled, too. Giles can create for others from the high post, an en vogue strategy in today’s game. Plus, his shooting touch from the midrange suggests a three-point shot may be on the way.

Shooting Touch

This past season, Giles placed in the 99th percentile for midrange shot attempts, according to Cleaning the Glass. Specifically, he canned an above-average 43 percent of his shots from the long midrange. Many will interpret this data and walk away frowning. After all, long-distance twos are the least valuable shot in the game. Yet, the eye test shows that Giles only attempts these when left wide open, and also indicates a possible extension to the three-point line.

Giles’ high release makes his jumper hard to contest. When the situation calls for it, he can also step into those shots with rhythm. What’s more, it simply looks like he shoots an easy ball (my favorite term in basketball.) Perhaps it is just the eternal optimist inside of me, but it is not difficult to see the former Duke Blue Devil knocking down triples in the near future.

Distributing

Giles is a far cry away from becoming the Al Horford to Domantas Sabonis’ Nikola Jokic, but he is a capable passer nevertheless. He finished in the 86th percentile for assist percentage in each of his first two seasons, and his assist-to-usage ratio does not lag too far behind.

In particular, Giles excels from the high post. He can complete big-to-big passes and dish to backdoor cutters with either hand. On short rolls, he can spot perimeter shooters and hit them with on-the-money passes. Giles’ patience while creating only accentuates some of his impressive, fastball passes. A smart team is going to use him as a focal point of their second-unit offense.

Defense, Wingspan and Active Hands

Oh, the things I’d do for a 7-foot-3 wingspan. Giles has one and knows how to use it. In fact, it often makes up for his lack of quick-twitch athleticism. When he defends pick-and-rolls, he seems to bait guards into trying to squeeze through dangerous passes. When they do, Giles often lets loose that wingspan and snatches a steal.

He loves to muck things up as a pick-and-roll defender. It shows in his steal percentages, which both ranked in the top quarter for his position over the last two seasons, according to Cleaning the Glass. Although he’s susceptible to getting beat over the top on rolls, Giles’ active hands and long arms force in plenty of turnovers. He has the footspeed to hang with quicker players to boot.

Defensive Agility

My girlfriend is a doctor, so that means I am one too, by osmosis. All kidding aside, by my (unlicensed) estimation, Giles’ injuries seem to have sapped his leaping ability, but not his foot-speed. There are loads of examples of Giles sliding his feet or turning his hips to make a defensive play. Given the unreliability of his leaping, beating defenders to the spot is paramount to Giles defensive success.

Watch him fluidly turn his hips to recover on a feed to Steven Adams. He did more of the same versus the speedy Chris Chiozza (another bargain-bin free agent whose preview you can read here.) We can be sure that whichever coach and general manager duo signs Giles will have a plan to mitigate injury risks. Injecting him into the game when the defensive script calls for an agile, long-armed big could be a solid plan going forward.

Explosiveness

Of course, the aforementioned injury risk is embedded into Giles next signing. Few have questioned his skill set, yet many have questioned his explosiveness. There are some moments when Giles reminds us why he was once projected as a high-end lottery pick. Unfortunately, those moments are overshadowed by the times he has trouble getting lift off the ground.

The first handful of clips in the below video show Giles soaring throughout the paint. Don’t expect him to do this routinely wherever he lands next. A handful of previous knee injuries has permanently limited his once top-tier athleticism, as you can see in the last two plays of this video.

Giles is at his best physically when he has the space and time to leap off of two feet. This makes sense when keeping in mind the injuries to his knee ligaments; the power of two legs is better than the power of one. When he lacks the time to load up, however, Giles can fall short of reaching the heights necessary to jam a dunk home or collect boards.

Fit & Potential Contract

The Kings either believe Giles is not worth bringing back, or that there isn’t a team that will offer him more than $3.9 million. But an organization like the Mavericks could offer Giles around $4 million of their MLE and probably have money left to sign another rotation player. Struggling teams who can allot playing time to develop Giles should take a risk on him. If Tristan Thompson leaves Cleveland, the Cavs could be a good fit. Same goes for Christian Wood and Detroit. I like Charlotte’s recent knack for player development as well.

Moreover, teams that lack the means to acquire a more proven talent boost should also inquire about his services. For example, Dallas is short on picks and could sign Giles without cutting into the cap space they want to keep available for next year’s offseason. Portland could let Hassan Whiteside walk and bring in Giles to be a third big behind Jusuf Nurkic and Zach Collins, although they may opt for a signing with less injury risk.Regardless of where he goes, Giles is primed to be an important signing for some lucky franchise.

Published by Matt Esposito

Founder/Writer for Theplaygrounder.com and contributor to Red’s Army Twitter: @Mattesposito_

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