Celtics ‘Ideal Fit’ for Former No. 1 Recruit, Jayson Tatum’s ‘Best Friend’

Celtics linked to Harry Giles

Getty Rondae Hollis-Jefferson #2 and Harry Giles III #4 of the Portland Trail Blazers laugh during warm ups before the game against the Memphis Grizzlies.

We are more than two weeks into free agency, and aside from a one-year flyer on Dennis Schroder, the Boston Celtics have remained relatively quiet. Yet, just because the top talent on the market has mostly dried up, that’s not to say there aren’t still a number of players up for grabs that could easily help a contending NBA roster.

Veteran names such as Avery Bradley, DeMarcus Cousins and James Ennis quickly jump to mind. However, NBA.com’s Kyle Irving — no, not Lucky the Leprechaun’s arch-nemesis — believes the Celtics might be better off taking a swing at a far less proven commodity, but one that may present a bit more upside over the long haul. He suggests the team is the “ideal fit” for big man Harry Giles III. 

Giles is still just 23 years old, yet the versatile forward hasn’t been able to find a permanent landing spot in the NBA. He has shown glimpses of promise as a player who has averaged a double-double per 36 minutes throughout his three-year NBA career, but without a designated position and role, the Duke product has struggled to fit in.

The Celtics are an intriguing fit because of his tight relationship with superstar Jayson Tatum and their need for some forward depth. The Raptors would make an interesting pairing as a team that has loaded their roster with lengthy, switchy forwards – a bill that Giles fits – and their renowned player development program could get the most out of the young player.

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The Tatum-Giles Connection

Before Tatum cemented himself as one of the NBA’s premier talents, he played second-fiddle to Giles on the recruiting trail. Despite suffering a torn ACL in both his sophomore and senior year, the latter was ranked the No. 1 high school recruit in the class of 2016 by ESPN — the same class as Tatum, who checked in at No. 3 overall. The pair chose to attend Duke University, where they spent the 2016-17 season as teammates before both opted to forgo their final three years of eligibility to enter the NBA draft.

“You can ask anybody that was in our [draft] class. Harry was the only player I would’ve said in high school, ‘Yeah, he might be better than me,'” Tatum said on The Bill Simmons podcast back in 2018. “I used to call him Chris Webber… he could do everything at 6-foot-11-inches.”

And while the Tatum-Bradley Beal bromance gets the majority of the spotlight in Boston — and understandably so with Beal’s free agency around the corner — the brotherhood between Tatum and Giles may be just as strong.

“Harry, he’s like my best friend,” Tatum told Simmons. Giles echoed that sentiment years prior in a conversation with Rivals via ZagsBlog: “I mean, that’s my best friend.”

Of course, Giles and Tatum’s career trajectories have gone in two totally different directions since entering the league. Tatum looks like an MVP in waiting, while Giles has struggled to tap into his pre-injury upside three years into his pro career. Still, Tatum has clearly kept tabs on his former Duke roommate, even recently shouting him out on Twitter.

Giles’ Outlook

For his career, Giles has appeared in 142 games (17 starts), spending time with both the Sacramento Kings and Portland Trail Blazers. His production is far from eye-popping, averaging 5.9 points, 3.8 rebounds and 1.2 assists per game throughout that time. In Portland, Giles began to flash his deep-range ability a bit — albeit on a limited basis — shooting 34.8% on 23 attempts from beyond the arc.

Giles would be nothing more than a bottom of the roster player in Boston, at least out the gate. However, tossing a minimum contract his way to see if coach Ime Udoka and company can tap into his once lauded potential, all while pleasing your superstar player in the midst, isn’t exactly the worst idea.


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