SACRAMENTO -- Harry Giles is full of energy, and when he steps onto an NBA court, the excitement seems to get the better of the Kings rookie.
It’s a young player issue, and the big man is no ordinary young player. He fought through two major knee surgeries and thousands of hours of rehabilitation to get where he is today. After playing just 300 minutes over a three-year period, Giles has every reason to be amped up when he steps on the floor.
Fresh off a trip to the G League's Stockton Kings, Giles picked up some early run in the Kings’ win over the San Antonio Spurs on Monday night. Although he had a successful stint, Giles' opening minute looked very similar to some of his previous games.
Eighteen seconds into his first appearance off the bench, Giles traveled. On the next trip down, he nearly had the ball stolen, and then he seemed to wake up.
After bobbling the ball, Giles attacked his defender, flashed to the rim and missed a layup. He bounced right back up, grabbed the rebound and tipped the ball in.
[RELATED: Gregg Popovich notes Kings' drastic culture change]
It was aggressive. It was physical. It was the Harry Giles that everyone expected when the season opened in mid-October.
“I just need to slow down, man, and just know that you don’t have to be in a rush all the time,” Giles said. “The first time I was in the game, I actually had a turnover when Frank [Mason] threw the ball. After that, I was like OK, I know what I got to do now, and I applied it from there.”
It’s hard to live up to the hype. After Giles redshirted last season in Sacramento, the buzz surrounding the 20-year-old reached a fever pitch before he ever played a minute in the NBA. It only grew after he posted a solid summer league and preseason.
Giles wants to be great. He has worked hard just to be able to step on the court, but like most young players, the mental aspect of the game is getting in the way. He’s playing too fast and compounding his mistakes by forcing the action.
The former top prep prospect played in 10 of the first 14 games for the Kings, averaging 4.4 points and 3.0 rebounds in 10.3 minutes per night. His numbers were limited because of foul and turnover trouble, as well as an abundance of big bodies on the roster in Sacramento.
After seeing very limited time over the last eight games, the Kings sent Giles to the G League on Sunday. He dominated the action, scoring 30 points in just 23 minutes.
Being sent down to the G League usually can go one of two ways with a young player. They either accept the opportunity and try to improve their game, or they sulk and it becomes a negative in their development.
For Giles, it seemed to wake him up and motivate him to find his game quickly at the NBA level when given a chance.
“It gave me a new charge, a new energy, just playing where I was at,” Giles said of his stint in Stockton. “I got some things done, but it just kind of set off a different fire in me to just do what I want to do up here. I’m just trying to be up here.”
The way the Kings currently are playing, everyone has an opportunity to shine during a game. The uptempo style creates an abundance of shots. So far this season, the Kings have shared the wealth, and everyone has had an chance to shine.
Giles can easily fit into this style of play. He’s athletic and strong, and his ability to create for others eventually will help open up the floor.
[RELATED: Two positives, two negatives from Kings' win over the Spurs]
Against the Spurs, Giles finished with a career-best 12 points and added six rebounds in 16 minutes of play. He also played solid defense on All-Star LaMarcus Aldridge.
“It was great,” De’Aaron Fox said of Giles’ performance. “He was real comfortable, real confident. Sometimes that’s really all you need. Sometimes it’s all about confidence.”
The Kings have a three-day break in the schedule to rest up and work out some of the kinks. When the team hits the road for a back-to-back in Memphis and Houston later in the week, don’t be surprised to see Giles in the rotation and building off his strong performance against the Spurs.