Harry Giles III’s NBA career didn’t quite get off to the start he expected, but he’s hoping to get back on track with the Los Angeles Lakers.

Giles was once considered the absolute best high school player in the country and a can’t miss prospect. A five-star recruit, he suffered a torn ACL during his senior year at Oak Hill Academy. The injury kept him out for the entire season, although he committed to Duke during that time.

He spent the early part of his freshman year at Duke rehabbing from the ACL injury, appearing in only 26 and averaging 3.9 points per game, and 3.8 rebounds. Despite not having the type of impact that was expected in college, he declared for the NBA Draft after his lone season at Duke.

The Sacramento Kings took a chance on Giles, selecting him with the No. 20 overall pick in the 2017 NBA Draft via a draft night trade with the Portland Trail Blazers. They held him out his entire rookie year though as he continued his conditioning and injury rehab.

When Harry Giles finally made his NBA debut during the 2018-19 season, he was able to make an immediate impact for the Kings. He appeared in 58 games off the bench averaging 7.0 points per game, 3.8 rebounds and 1.5 assists. He shot 50.3 percent from the field. But following the 2019-20 season, the Kings declined his contract option making him an unrestricted free agent.

From then on, it’s kind of been uncertainty after uncertainty for Giles. A one-year stint with the Portland Trail Blazers. A training camp invite from the Los Angeles Clippers. A year off after playing full-time in the G League. Making the Brooklyn Nets roster out of camp this year, ending up being cut, and then eventually signing with the Lakers. But through it all, Giles never wavered in his belief in himself.

“You got to just be positive with yourself. You’re going to have your days where you feel like you can’t do it, you feel like it’s over,” Giles told ClutchPoints in an exclusive interview. “But it’s all about believing, sometimes you got to just force yourself to believe so that you can get where you’re going.”

Harry Giles’ work helped him make it back to the NBA

That belief in himself paid off for Harry Giles this season. He sat out the 2022-23 season after playing with the Clippers G League team the year before. He was invited to training camp with the Nets and was originally a long shot to make the final roster. But a strong preseason showing earned him a spot on the Nets opening night roster.

It was an about-face from the 2021-22 season when Giles came into Clippers training camp in a similar situation. That time, he lost out on the Clippers final roster spot to Isaiah Hartenstein. He wasn’t out of the woods yet though, as the contract he signed with the Nets was still not guaranteed. But for Giles, the key to staying mentally ready and focused is acting as if it is guaranteed and you have to go out and perform regardless.

“Every day counts, it’s tough. It can go either way whenever but you can’t really think about it. You always got to treat it as if it is guaranteed,” Giles said. “Guaranteed or not, anything can always happen. For me I just try to be positive, I don’t even think about that s**t, I just work hard and just get ready for the next play. Put all my belief in God and trust in my work.”

Harry Giles eventually made it past the guarantee deadline with the Nets, but the NBA trade deadline brought a shortage of roster spots compared to the number of players the Nets were bringing in. As a result, they cut Giles. It was about one month later that the Lakers came calling. It was a two-way contract, but an NBA roster spot nonetheless.

As per the NBA’s CBA, only players with three or less years of experience were eligible for two-way contracts. But Giles and his agent, with a little help from Boston Celtics star and former Duke teammate Jayson Tatum, successfully petitioned the NBA to allow Giles to be eligible for a two-way contract on the basis that he did not play his rookie season and therefore only had three years of NBA experience.

Harry Giles played in four games for the Lakers G League affiliate, the South Bay Lakers this season. He averaged 11.8 points per game, 9.8 rebounds and 3.8 assists. He shot 46.3 percent from the field, 27.3 percent from the three-point line and 100 percent from the free-throw line.

But perhaps one of the biggest developments in Giles’ game is his extended range. He’s never been much of a three-point shooter, or a shooter at all for that matter. His game has always been that of a more traditional post player and big man. But with the changing NBA game and shooting big men becoming more common and more of a necessity, Giles has focused on expanding that part of his game.

“I’m working on it a lot. I could always kind of shoot, but I think when I was in Portland I kind of just started taking it to another level. Being around all those shooters, CJ [McCollum], Dame [Lillard], we did a lot of shooting. For me it kept going from there,” Giles said. “I found out I could hit it. I don’t hit it as much as I’d like right now. . .it’s going to take a little time but I think the more reps I get, the more in shape I get, I’ll be hitting it more and more.”

On a two-way contract, Harry Giles is unable to play in any playoff games for the Lakers. His contract is only through the end of the season, putting him in a state of uncertainty that he’s come to know very well. This is also the last year he’ll be eligible for a two-way contract.

He’s appeared in only seven games for the Lakers. With the regular season over, any opportunity he’ll have to show that he is worthy of a roster spot next season will have to come in either practice or in the offseason. But whatever the future holds, Giles is confident that he has a place in the NBA and can be a regular contributor to a team’s rotation.

“Your shot is going to come in the league, you got to just believe it, half of it is just believing,” Giles said. “I think for me, I did it before. I know I feel good, I know how it felt when I got out and got done with certain things. I know I can do it again. It’s just a matter of locking in and doing that.”