Our 2021-2022 Clippers season player preview series continues with Harry Giles, a young big man who’s fighting for the third center spot on the Clippers’ roster.

Basic Information

Height: 6’10

Weight: 240 pounds

Position: Center

Age: 23

Years in NBA: 4 (missed first season due to injury)

Basic Stats: 2.8 points, 3.5 rebounds, 0.8 assists, and 0.3 blocks in 9.2 minutes per game across 38 games played for the Trailblazers in 2021 on 43.3/34.8/59.3 shooting splits (just 23 threes and 27 free throws total).

Contract Status: Signed to a one-year non-guaranteed contract at the veteran’s minimum for $1.8M

Expectations

Despite Giles’ pedigree as one of the top high school prospects in the country just a half decade ago, his NBA career, he’s now on the fringes of the NBA. A solid rookie season with the Kings in 2019 (he sat out 2018 with a knee injury) is now a couple years in the rearview mirror, and he was mostly quite bad with the Blazers in 2021. Giles will battle with Isaiah Hartenstein for the Clippers’ last roster spot and as the third big man in the rotation, and right now, it seems like a 50-50 toss-up. If Giles does make the roster, he will be a deep reserve who will get minutes in garbage time and might play in the rotation when one of Serge Ibaka and Ivica Zubac is out. Overall, Clippers’ fans should not expect much from Giles this year.

Strengths

By far Harry Giles’ biggest strength in the NBA to this point is his defense. Advanced stats (which notably rate his offense very poorly) show Giles as being an approximately average defender: he has a DBPM of 0.5 across his three seasons and had a -1.3 D-Raptor, -0.5 D-EPM, and 0.9 D-Lebron in 2021 (albeit in limited minutes). That might not seem exceptional, but for a young big man without a set role and playing inconsistently, those numbers are pretty damn good. Giles isn’t much of a rim protector, but he does move his feet fairly well on the perimeter, makes smart rotations, and just generally knows where to be on defense. Big men who are solid defensively are nearly always at least semi-helpful in the NBA, and Giles could certainly be a useful reserve if he can consistently play above-average defense.

While he hasn’t received a great deal of opportunity to serve as a playmaker due to his limited and inconsistent playing time, Giles has consistently shown a solid ability to make plays for others, both out of the pick and roll and the post. He has good vision, is a willing passer, and has the touch on skills to actually make the dishes that he sees. His assist rate of 15.2% in his rookie season is quite good for a big man, and the Clippers could definitely use his passing.

Weaknesses

Unfortunately, outside of those flashes of passing, Giles just doesn’t do a ton on offense. He’s an ok finisher around the rim, but he’s not a good pick/screen setter, which makes his finishing less valuable. Giles also isn’t a proficient post player who can consistently punish smaller players on switches, though his passing does make him playing out of the post somewhat of a weapon. Giles also isn’t a shooter – he’s only taken 31 threes in the NBA and hit a mere 8 of them. Not only that, but he’s barely a midrange shooter either, so he offers no spacing. In short, Giles is a major net negative on offense who needs to pick up some skills somewhere to be close to valuable on that end.

Like many young players, Giles is not consistent. There are nights where he flashes the tools and skills that made him such a highly regarded prospect, but also games where he doesn’t make any impact and looks lost on both ends of the court. If the Clippers stay healthy, this won’t matter. But if, as seems quite possible, Serge Ibaka is injured or load managed for a good part of the season, Giles will be pressed into the rotation. In that case, the Clippers will need something consistent from Giles, especially on the defensive end.

Summary

Harry Giles is a semi-interesting young big man who has maybe a 50% chance to be on the Clippers in the 2021-2022 season. There is a chance he breaks out for the Clippers and usurps the role of one of the guys ahead of him – but it’s a low. Most likely, if he plays much of a role on the team, it probably means that Serge Ibaka (or Ivicac Zubac) is injured a lot – which means that the Clippers’ season is probably not going to plan. At the least, hopefully Giles gets enough playing time and does well enough in the role to earn a more legitimate chance somewhere else.

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