Kings

Kings player profile: Can Harry Giles carve out niche in second season?

Kings player profile: Can Harry Giles carve out niche in second season?

Vlade Divac took a gamble with the 20th pick in the 2017 NBA Draft when he selected Harry Giles out of Duke University. Two years later, the Sacramento Kings are cautiously optimistic that they have another piece to the puzzle in the talented 21-year-old.

After multiple knee injuries, the Kings have taken a patient approach to bring along the 6-foot-10 big man. They even hedged their bets this offseason when they brought not just one, but two centers to compete for minutes with Giles.

While this is Giles’ second NBA season, it’s actually the third year of his rookie-scale deal after redshirting his first year. With just 58 games under his belt, this is an important season for him to prove he is another piece to the Kings’ long term future. 

Luke Walton has plenty of pieces to work with on the frontline, but Giles' skill set is unique. Whether he can stay healthy and carve out a niche for himself is still unknown, but he has plenty of potential and an infectious personality.

Strengths

Giles has shown flashes of being a complete NBA player. He’s a physically gifted athlete with great court vision and tremendous size for either the power forward or center position. He needs to add weight and get stronger, but he has a frame that can easily carry another 10-15 pounds without hampering his mobility.

His raw numbers don’t jump off the page. He managed to average 7.0 points, 3.8 rebounds, and 1.5 assists in 14.1 minutes per game in Dave Joerger’s rotation. He struggled early in the season but found his rhythm after two stops in the G League with the Stockton Kings.

Although he played limited minutes, there were times when the Kings ran their offense through the rookie. He has an advanced feel for the high post and is a tremendous passer. Despite his inexperience, he managed a 15.2 percent assist percentage, which ranked fourth out of the rotational players on the Kings.

Giles struggled with his shot early but was able to bring his field goal percentage to a respectable 50.3 percent by the end of the season. He shot 68.6 percent at the rim and 41.6 percent from 3-10 feet. He has a variety of post moves and showed an ability to take his defender off the dribble.

There were times when Giles was overmatched against bigger players and he was lost in defensive rotations early in the season, but he settled in and held his opponents to negative field goal percentages inside of 10 feet and outside of 15 feet. He’s a work in progress on the defensive side of the ball, but he’s a high-motor player that projects as an above-average NBA defender.

Per 36 minutes, Giles averaged 9.7 rebounds per game and he was only slightly behind Willie Cauley-Stein and Marvin Bagley in his offensive and defensive rebounding percentages.

Weaknesses

Injury concerns are what made Giles topple out of the top five in the 2017 NBA Draft and they will continue to be a topic of conversation until he proves that he can play an 82-game schedule. He stayed reasonably healthy throughout the first three-quarters of the season, although he played limited minutes.

Eventually, Giles missed the final 11 games of the season due to a thigh bruise and spent the early part of the offseason rehabbing. There were nights when he looked spry and other games when his legs looked heavy. It’s part of the process of recovery for a young man that played a total of 300 minutes of basketball over the three seasons coming into last year.

On the offensive side of the ball, Giles is a major cog due to his passing ability, but his limited shooting range hurts the spacing on the floor, especially when he was paired with players like Bagley or Kosta Koufos.

Giles attempted just six 3-pointers on the season, missing all six, and he took 36 total shots from 16 feet out to the 3-point line. The modern NBA big needs to be able to shoot from behind the arc, especially in a wide-open offense like Sacramento’s.

Early in the season, Giles struggled with both turnovers and personal fouls. He cleaned up a lot of the issues as he got more comfortable on the court. His ability to pass is elite, but there are times where he presses and gets too loose with the ball.

Giles is a gritty defensive player that doesn’t back down from a challenge. On many occasions it was a plus for Sacramento -- but he averaged 6.6 personal fouls per 36 minutes -- which cost him minutes. He has to be smarter with fouls and use his feet to play defense instead of his hands.

Path to Improvement

Giles is a raw but moldable piece of NBA clay. He has incredible natural ability and a high basketball IQ.

In order to develop and reach his potential, he needs to work on his range as a shooter and continue to build strength and endurance for a long 82 season. He has a nice jumper from 18 feet, but if he can hit the corner three or step out and drill an occasional triple from the elbow, it will help to diversify his game and space the floor for others.

His body continues to be a work in progress, but this is his third NBA summer. Hopefully, he’s spent plenty of time with the Kings’ training staff refining his body and getting stronger.

He also needs to get comfortable on the court, which will help him reduce fouls and turnovers, as well as improve as a defender. That will come with time and opportunity.

There were times when Giles showed flashes both as a scorer and rebounder. The Kings need more consistency in these areas when he gets time. He has the motor and skills set to post double-doubles on a nightly basis, but he failed to register a single 10-rebound game in his rookie campaign.

Projection

Divac made the safe play when he brought in both Dewayne Dedmon and Richaun Holmes to compete for minutes at the five. Giles is a wild card but comes with a long injury history. Dedmon has missed 38 games due to injury over the last two seasons as well and Holmes has never played more than 70 games in a season. All three players are very different and it's up to Walton to figure out how to use them.

Dedmon will start the season as the starter, but the early plan is likely for Giles to split minutes with him. If Giles can reach the 24-minute mark, he can average 10 points, 6.5 rebounds and 2.8 assists per game and perhaps more.

[RELATED: Kings player profile: Can Dewayne Dedmon stay healthy enough to contribute?]

If he continues to struggle with foul issues or has a physical setback, he’ll open the door for Holmes to take his minutes.

Giles needs to build off his late-season success and show an ability to stretch the floor. With a strong start to the season, he could steal a bigger chunk of minutes at the five and establish himself as the long term answer at the position for Sacramento.

NBA admits LeBron James fouled Harrison Barnes on decisive Lakers-Kings play

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AP

NBA admits LeBron James fouled Harrison Barnes on decisive Lakers-Kings play

The Kings' 99-97 loss to the Los Angeles Lakers on Friday night was too close for comfort. It also created a controversial call -- a call in which we recently received some clarity.

With 5.5 seconds remaining in the game, Harrison Barnes was called for blocking a foul against LeBron James. This allowed LeBron to sink a couple of free throws to get the Lakers to 99 points.

Barnes would later say contact was made but was waiting for the replay to decide.

The NBA Officiating Last Two Minute Report would confirm James did indeed foul Barnes with 5.5 seconds remaining. 

"James (LAL) extends his elbow into Barnes's (SAC) chin before any contact is initiated by Barnes on the perimeter," the report stated.

“Who initiated that, that’s for replays to decide," Barnes said after the game. " And they chose to call that a foul on me and that’s something you have to live with."

[RELATED: No timetable for De'Aaron Fox return]

Buddy Hield spoke to NBC Sports California's James Ham about the play and said it was a game-changer.

“One call changed the whole game, it could have gone either way,” Hield said. “It be like that sometimes. When the home team is favored, especially you know, in LA.”

In a game that close, he could be right.

Kings not happy with two questionable calls late in loss to Lakers

Kings not happy with two questionable calls late in loss to Lakers

Losing never feels good, but the Sacramento Kings were definitely not happy about the way things went Friday evening at the Staples Center. With the game on the line late, not one, but two plays went against Sacramento, and the Los Angeles Lakers came away with a 99-97 victory.

With 5.5 seconds remaining, Harrison Barnes was called for a blocking foul against LeBron James, which allowed the one of the game’s greats to step to the line and knock down a pair of free throws to give his club a 99-97 lead.

“Contact was made,” Barnes said. “Who initiated that, that’s for replays to decide. And they chose to call that a foul on me and that’s something you have to live with.”

At least one Kings player was willing to voice his displeasure at the chain of events following the loss.

“One call changed the whole game, it could have gone either way,” an angry Buddy Hield said. “It be like that sometimes. When the home team is favored, especially you know, in LA.”

The replay is difficult to parse out and is up for interpretation. It was clear that Barnes made a move on the ball, but it was also obvious that James made contact with the defender and cleared space.

“Sometimes you have to let the situation play out,” Hield said. “I don’t think it was a foul. It was the other way. Ask Rodney what he thinks.”

By “ask Rodney,” Hield was referring to official Rodney Mott, who called the game along with Sean Wright and Natalie Sago.

Sacramento had another opportunity to either tie or go ahead in the final moments, but this time, the officiating crew allowed the players to continue after contact.

Barnes took an inbounds pass, saw an opening and broke for the basket. It appeared that while trying to recover defensively, James clipped the back of Barnes right heel, which knocked him off balance and sent him careening towards the key.

Barnes continued to stumble towards the basket where he was met by All-Star center Anthony Davis in the lane. The 6-foot-11 big managed to absorb contact from Barnes and swat a last-second shot attempt away to preserve the Lakers win.

It turns out that Barnes going to the paint was the Lakers gameplan all along.

“The one thing we wanted to do was force them inside the 3-point line,” James told reporters following the game. “A two doesn’t hurt us. They make a two, we call a timeout, see if we can win the game, if not go into overtime. We played it to perfection making them go inside the line and then when you have a shot blocker with the caliber of AD protecting the rim, it just made it a lot tougher on Harrison.”

While James saw perfection, the Kings saw an offensive foul or no-call, followed by a second no-call. They’ll point to a disparity in free throw attempts on the evening, where they went 9-of-9 from the line, including seven attempts in the fourth quarter, while the Lakers finished 20-for-22.

“It’s always the referee’s decision to call or not call (a foul),” Bogdan Bogdanovic said. “Sometimes you get calls, sometimes not. Homecourt advantage maybe? Sometimes it goes like that, you know? But it’s over, we lost this game and we have to be locked in for Boston.”

[RELATED: Kings take leap of faith on young core]

Sacramento will wait anxiously for the league’s Last Two Minute report to drop on Saturday afternoon, although the officials report has zero value when it comes to wins and losses. The league may admit a mistake or two, but there is no recourse. They could also side with the officiating crew at the arena.

A loss is a loss, but the Kings played solid ball against the best the Western Conference has to offer. They played short-handed with De’Aaron Fox (left ankle), Marvin Bagley (right thumb) and Trevor Ariza (right groin) missing the game and they still managed to keep it close with a chance to win late.