On Saturday, news broke that the Clippers were adding center Isaiah Hartenstein on a training camp deal. Hartenstein has long been rumored as a Clippers’ target, and has been a favorite of fans for the third center spot.
Of course, the Clippers signed Harry Giles last week, who was then the presumed favorite for that spot. Hartenstein’s signing complicates things – the Clippers only have one roster spot available, so Giles and Isaiah Hartenstein will be competing for that single position.
There are many similarities between Hartenstein and Giles. Both were taken in the 2017 NBA Draft (Hartenstein at 43, Giles at 20), both sat out their first year in the NBA (Giles with injury, and Hartenstein as a G-League only player), and are only three weeks apart in age.
Despite Giles’ lack of playing time and bouts with injury, he’s actually played nearly twice as many minutes as Hartenstein, who has barely logged 1000 minutes in his NBA career. Hartenstein’s career averages are uninspiring – 4.1 points, 3.3 rebounds, 0.9 assists, and 0.6 blocks in 10.8 minutes per game – but he has consistently been a positive presence on the defensive end.
The Clippers just need a steady presence behind Ivica Zubac and Serge Ibaka who can play as needed due to injuries or foul trouble. Hartenstein is mostly unproven, but has been more of a positive impact player than Giles so far. Giles, however, offers more upside despite their similar ages. His passing, in particular, is something that stands out compared to any of Hartenstein’s offensive skills.
Right now, it doesn’t seem as if either would have much of an edge. Giles has the greater pedigree, but was also awful last year and spent most of his career on mediocre Kings teams. Hartenstein doesn’t have the athletic and skill level of Hartenstein, but does at least have a few dozen games playing rotation minutes for competitive Rockets’ teams.
Therefore, this is lining up to be a true training camp battle, with Isaiah Hartenstein and Harry Giles (and maybe even fellow invite Moses Wright) duking it out for the Clippers’ 3rd center spot. It should be a fun storyline to track throughout training camp and preseason, and we will keep you posted on all the developments.