Training camp is flying by quickly for the Trail Blazers. They’ve had just two practices and yet there’s just one more workout Thursday before the team’s first exhibition game Friday night in Moda Center.
And there’s one thing Trail Blazer fans may be interested in watching in the nationally televised game against Sacramento -- the first look at newly acquired center Harry Giles.
He is one of the most intriguing players this team has added in several seasons. His career has been disrupted by serious injuries, but before major knee problems his potential was once compared to that of LeBron James.
Giles was first drafted by the Trail Blazers and quickly shipped off to the Kings in a trade for Zach Collins.
His potential among basketball scouts is legendary. One of them told ESPN’s Chad Ford that he was “the best high school prospect since LeBron James.
But that was before he tore the ACL, MCL and meniscus in his left knee in 2013 while playing for a FIBA USA team. A year later, he tore the ACL in his right knee and missed his entire senior season of high school basketball. He limped through one college season at Duke before being drafted by the Kings, but he still seems to flash the skill level that once made him one of the top young players in the country.
“He's had two good days (of practice),” Coach Terry Stotts said Wednesday. “He's a talented young man.”
Starting center Jusuf Nurkic did not arrive in Portland until Sunday, so will not be eligible for contact practice until Friday and likely will not see action in the first game. Zach Collins is not ready for game action yet, so Enes Kanter and Giles will probably be the only centers in uniform Friday night.
“The fact that Nurk’s not here, it's been a good time for him to get reps, going against Enes,” Stotts said. “You know, we only have 12 guys in practice, so it's six-on-six, two teams of six with one sub. Everybody's getting a lot of reps and I think Harry is adapting to the way we play -- a different style here than what he did in Sacramento. But like I said, he's very talented.
“He's a willing learner and young, and he's had two good days. You know, he's a skilled guy, I mean he's got a good mid-range, he can pass, he’s athletic.
“I think most of you know, coming out of high school how highly talented he was.”
Stotts said he doesn’t expect anyone to play more than 20 minutes in the first game, “or maybe 25 -- but I think the first two games against Sacramento are about getting up and down and running. And then I will see where we are, going into Denver (for the final two exhibition games).”