Duke's Harry Giles has knee surgery, could miss start of year: Three things
This is Giles' third knee surgery in the past three years; concerns growing?
Arguably the most important player to this year's Duke team, five-star freshman Harry Giles, underwent his third knee surgery in the past three years on Monday.
Duke announced Monday afternoon that an arthroscopic procedure on Giles' left knee was "successful." Giles is expected to miss six weeks, which calls into question the start of the season.
"The procedure was performed by Dr. Claude T. Moorman, head team physician, at Duke University Medical Center," according to Duke's release.
Giles is a huge name, and Duke is our preseason No. 1 team. So what to make of this news?
1. He probably won't play in Duke's season opener. A six-week recovery would put him on track to return on Nov. 14. Duke's first game is on Nov. 11., at home, against Marist. But the first big game comes four days after that: the Champions Classic tilt vs. Kansas at Madison Square Garden on Nov. 15. Giles' availability for that game is to be determined, but with a knee scope this close to the season, it wouldn't be a shock to see Krzyzewski opt to ease him back into the lineup.
2. Duke is still loaded with talent. Indeed, the Blue Devils are worthy of being the top-ranked team, even if Giles isn't healthy to start the season. in fact, there's another five-star big man ready and able to step in in Marques Bolden, also a projected lottery pick who should prove to be a factor for Duke right away. Then you've got Grayson Allen, who could be a First Team All-American, plus vet Amile Jefferson in the frontcourt, and an improving player/breakout candidate in Luke Kennard. Duke is loaded. The Giles injury stings, but it's still one of the best rosters, if not the best, in college hoops without him.
3. Giles' NBA draft stock/reputation is about to get picked over and heavily debated for the next eight months. Duke is not going to jeopardize Giles' NBA potential, not with three knee surgeries on his dossier. So expect Giles to essentially be on a "pitch count," if you will, whenever he does come back. Three knee surgeries for a big man, a guy with No. 1-overall-in-the-draft talent is a huge red flag, of course. There's no denying this will have impact on his draft status and reputation. Even if the procedure was relatively minor, the NBA is going to want to know all it can about the health status of Giles and the stability of those knees when he declares for the NBA.
Will Giles' role now be reduced? I think that's a fair assumption, but I don't think he'll become a role player. If he's truly healthy and his knees are strong, there's no reason to believe he can't play 20 minutes per game and be a force. He's got incredible skill -- a new-age Chris Webber.
"We're very pleased with the outcome of today's procedure," Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski said in a statement. "This is the right step for Harry at the moment as it will help him be 100 percent going forward. Harry has done a tremendous job in rehabilitation over the last year and I'm sure he'll continue to do the same after this procedure."
No matter what Giles does from here through the end of Duke's season, questions will linger about his health. You'll hear the name Greg Oden mentioned plenty. He was a guy with unreal talent, but injuries precluded him from ever blossoming into the player he should have been. Some NBA general managers will have those concerns with Giles, fair or not.
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