The Portland Trail Blazers have the second-worst defense in the entire NBA. How can they use young big Harry Gile to unlock this team’s defense?
The Portland Trail Blazers have struggled big time on the defensive end to start the season. Before the matchup with the New York Knicks, they ranked 29th in defensive efficiency. Yes, you read that right, second to last in the entire league.
Before the injuries to Nurk and then CJ, Harry Giles had only played significant minutes a few times. After a few stellar performances in lower minutes roles, Giles could be the guy to change the Blazers’ luck on the defensive end.
The 22-year-old Giles signed with the Blazers on a one-year deal in 2020 Free Agency, as a third/fourth big man in the rotation. After three unsuccessful years in Sacramento, Giles wanted a fresh start, and now he has it.
Giles physical tools, combined with his athleticism and energy, stand out as things that can help this team right away.
Giles is six-foot-ten, and has a big seven-foot-three wingspan. He is also very athletic, with a big vertical and nice sideways movement.
Though it was only in limited minutes, in the win over the Atlanta Hawks, when the Blazers were struggling to get stops with Enes Kanter on the court, they subbed Giles in, who made an immediate impact.
Because of his fast-twitch movements and speed for the loose ball, he was able to change the tempo of the game by getting some stops around the rim, drawing a foul after grabbing a loose ball, and then gobbling up rebounds on both ends.
The difference that Giles makes compared to the only traditional bigs we have on the roster, is that he can move quickly away from the rim.
Kanter, and Carmelo Anthony, both play as traditional bigs these days and cannot move their feet away from the basket. As a center, Kanter tries hard around the rim, but neither he nor Melo can protect that area.
Though he sometimes fouls too frequently, Giles can defend away from the basket and has a great eye for loose balls and defensive rebounds.
As a rim protector, his plus wingspan and hops mean that he can contest with good verticality around the rim. He can help over on drives, and provide the rim protection that only a few other team members can help with.
Though Giles isn’t a great defender in space, he moves his feet well and can get out to the perimeter. He doesn’t need to drop on every coverage, meaning that Terry Stotts could use a different scheme if need be to maximize Giles quickness.
Giles is only playing ten – twelves minutes a night as the backup big, but his ability to influence shots at the rim and get steals and loose balls, should mean he sees an uptick in minutes moving forward.
Giles is the only big that can protect the rim, so giving him an increased minute load makes sense. Kanter has been great so far, but not every matchup will suit him.