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Is the hype on Harry Giles fair? He's ready to get past this season and live up to it

Harry Giles had a good feeling about Sacramento after his pre-draft workout

The Kings rookie has nothing but good things to say about the city, the facility and the team.
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The Kings rookie has nothing but good things to say about the city, the facility and the team.

Harry Giles' future has been so hyped by those around the Kings, it's easy to forget he hasn't played since last year's NCAA Tournament.

It's led to an amazing amount of buildup for a player who isn't scheduled to make his on-court debut until the NBA Summer League in July.

It's also reason for skepticism.

There's been so much good said about Giles, how do you not get excited? But all this chatter for a guy no one outside of the Kings practice facility has seen perform? No one gets this more than Giles, who is quite introspective and thoughtful as any 19-year-old in the NBA.

But is it fair to put so much hype around him? No, it's not. But the Kings need as many positive things on the court to give the fan base hope things are turning around. Giles is up for the job.

Opinion

Giles is the big brother no one has seen, but his siblings promise will force the bullies to think twice. You think De'Aaron Fox is a problem? Wait until Harry shows up!

The 6-foot-11 rookie understands the curiosity and doubts.

"I can understand having a guy coming off injury, that's a rookie that hasn't played, so I understand 'Why are they hyping him?'" Giles said. "But ... I'm ready to go. It's not about the hype, it's not about the media, it's about me getting on the court and playing ball in Vegas. That's my main goal, I don't even think about anything else."

Giles' much-talked about first season is nearly over, and he represents the Kings' hopes for the future as much as anyone that played in 2017-18.

His play in practices has some around the Kings excited, but what the future holds is uncertain for a player who spent the season recovering from a torn ACL in his right knee that was operated on more than two years ago. Giles tore his left ACL as a high school sophomore.

All the talk about the future has Giles anxious. At least with the Kings' season nearing its end, we can focus more on what we'll actually see on the court instead of the whispers and hints of how great Giles is in practices that are closed to the media, save for a few minutes at the end.

And don't think Giles isn't ready to show everyone why there's been so much talk about him. It was just two years ago he was rated by many as the top high school player in the country before playing a season at Duke, one that was slowed by his knee.

"It's been over a year since I played in a game, a real organized game," Giles said. "It's crazy to think that, but it's good for me. For me, I'm getting to the point where I’m starting to lose my patience, but we've only got two games left so it's perfect timing."

That's about as close as you'll get to hearing Giles express any frustration about this season. He said he never nudged general manager Vlade Divac or Kings coaches to get him on the court this season and that he didn't want to "rush the process."

"He's a pretty happy guy and I'm sure it gets old, especially when we don't practice in between games, " Kings coach Dave Joerger said. "But practices are his games. Those practices are an opportunity for him, those are his games and he goes hard. Guys encourage him and he continues to get better."

That should be the idea, Giles just continues to get better. But the hype machine has been in full effect for months, so expectations are already probably unrealistic.

Giles, however, seems built for this. Being deemed the top player in high school came with a collection of doubters. The peanut gallery grew larger as he's recovered from injuries.

This season hasn't been easy, watching 80 games from the bench, because behind that grin is an ultra competitor. Still, Giles wears a big smile when he heads to pregame workouts and signs as many autographs as he can.

He's eternally upbeat. Why?

"Because it's almost over," Giles said. "I've been doing it this long so why not wait and see how much better I've gotten, take it to the summer and take it to another level and then I can really pick it up in July. That's what I can do."

Trending up

Justin Jackson's confidence is on the upswing. Not that he ever sulked about shots or playing time, but lately he's looked a lot more comfortable, especially as his playing time has increased.

The rookie from North Carolina is averaging 27.5 minutes and shooting 49.4 percent over his last 10 games. He might not get a lot of shots, but he's making the most of them.

Trending down

Skal Labissiere's sprained left ankle came at a bad time. He's missed the last two games and every chance he has to get on the court is important.

It would be good for him to get back on the court for the final two games.

Looking ahead

Monday's game at San Antonio is big for the Spurs, who can clinch a playoff spot.

Former Kings forward Rudy Gay isn't hiding his excitement.

"Me getting to the playoffs and beating the Kings, all in the same day?" Gay told local reporters Saturday night. "Dot, dot, dot, dot … fill it in however you want to fill it in.”

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