Duke basketball: Former Blue Devil showed out for his new team

Duke basketball (Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports)
Duke basketball (Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports) /

Duke basketball product Harry Giles had himself a game in his Blazer debut.

Returning to the franchise that originally drafted him No. 20 overall in 2017, former Duke basketball one-and-done Harry Giles signed a one-year contract with the Portland Trail Blazers on Nov. 22, worth $1.6 million.

This comes after a two-year tenure with the Sacramento Kings, who had landed Giles in a trade during the 2017 NBA Draft.

Giles has battled many setbacks, such as an MCL and ACL injury. But the former five-star recruit is finally healthy and showing glimpses of what scouts believed he could do in the NBA.

The last time the big man was 100 percent healthy, in his sophomore year of high school, he was the No.1 player in the nation in a class that included Lonzo Ball, Markelle Fultz, and former Duke teammate Jayson Tatum.

On Friday night, in Portland’s first preseason game, Giles came off the bench at home against Sacramento. Despite not starting, the 22-year-old played 25 minutes and made the most of every single second against his former team, tallying 18 points and 14 rebounds to go along with three steals.

Averaging only 7.0 points and 3.9 rebounds for his career, the raw, jaw-dropping athleticism that made Giles rise to stardom in high school was on full display in his first appearance as a Blazer. His agility when coming off pick-and-roll action was a thing of beauty.

Having a big man that is quick on his feet is a premium that every NBA team is looking to add to the roster.

The third-year prospect made a strong impact on the defensive end as well. His ability to jump the passing lanes at 6-foot-11 is not something that you see quite often. Giles was also a presence in the paint with two blocks.

Playing time won’t be easy to come by for the former Duke basketball player

Portland already has a starting center in seventh-year veteran Jusuf Nurkic. Plus, the roster includes newly acquired big man Enes Kanter. However, Giles could turn into being the biggest steal of the NBA offseason.

Harry Giles, who is now teammates with fellow former Blue Devils Gary Trent Jr. and Rodney Hood, has all the tools to be a star as a pro. Given his debut performance with the Blazers, whose first game of the regular season is set for Dec. 23 at home against the Utah Jazz, we could be seeing the start of his stardom in the NBA.

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