The 2017 NBA Draft is just a few days away. This year’s class has been lauded for the depth of potential star players at the top of the draft. Within that depth there are players that play the same position that lend themselves to debates about which is the better prospect. One of those has been a long running debate going back to their high school days, about who is the better bigman prospect between Kentucky’s’ Bam Adebayo and Duke’s Harry Giles.
Both of these big men prospects had showed flashes of what they could become during freshmen seasons. Giles didn’t match the projected impact on the Blue Devils due to knee issues. Adebayo and the Wildcats won another SEC title and made it all the way to the Elite Eight in the NCAA Tournament.
Their lone college seasons saw both players play predominantly as centers surrounded by mostly perimeter players in smaller lineups. These two top prospects will likely remain as centers in their transition to the next level.
Yet, the question is which of the two are better suited to make an impact in the NBA and if one or the other has a considerable edge as a player. Below we will breakdown how these two matchup head-to-head in five different categories (size and measurements, athleticism, scoring ability, defensive ability, and potential) in order to decipher if one player is better than the other.
Size and measurements

Giles has been an impressive prospect since breaking out as a freshman at Wesleyan Christian Academy in High Point, NC. At the 2017 NBA Draft combine Giles measured at 6’10 ½” in shoes, with a 7’3 ¼” wingspan and a standing reach of 9’1 ½” and weighed in at a svelte 232 pounds. All those numbers are picture perfect for a modern day center in the NBA. Giles is only 19–his birthday was only two months ago–so there’s a scenario where he could continue to grow as he develops in the league.
Bam Adebayo was also an impressive prospect, more so because he has looked physically more mature than his contemporaries since he was a senior in high school at High Point Christian Academy in High Point, NC (Giles’ transfer to Oak Hill and torn ACL in his senior year took away some potential Giles vs Adebayo matchups in North Carolina). Adebayo measured shorter than Giles at the 2017 NBA Draft Combine at 6’9 ¾” in shoes, but he comes close to matching Giles in the length categories. His wingspan came in at 7’2 ¾” and his standing reach has previously been recorded at 9’1 ½”. He has the bigger body of the two, carrying 243 pounds impressively.
While Adebayo’s length and strength are probably the two most impressive numbers, I think Giles has the edge in this department. First off, being naturally taller helps Giles as he can matchup better with centers regardless of height. Giles also being seven months younger than Adebayo leads me to believe that Adebayo might have hit his peak physically whereas the jury is still out on Giles, especially given the injuries he’s dealt with over the last five years. It is close to a toss up here, but for my personal preference I’d give Giles the upper hand here.
Edge: Giles
Giles once had the fluidity athletically and explosion to contend with Adebayo in this category, however, after having multiple knee surgeries in the past five years we aren’t seeing Giles being able to do some of the things he used to do on the basketball court. He had his moments last year at Duke, but they were inconsistent throughout the year. There is a lot of skepticism about whether Giles can completely get back to the explosive level he was at during his junior season in high school. But with the right medical staff and the right training, there is hope that he will be able to improve upon the mobility and athleticism that he showed during his only season with Duke.
Adebayo is a complete freak of nature in this category. He has a Dwight Howard type of build with wide shoulders and like Howard he’s quick off the floor. Adebayo showed his explosiveness time and time again during his time with Kentucky, routinely catching lobs from De’Aaron Fox and Malik Monk. It’s not all run and jump plays for Adebayo however, he showed the ability to play on the perimeter defensively and hold his own when defending shifty guards on switches.
Adebayo’s ability athletically is highly coveted in the NBA today and him being an elite athlete is what makes him such an intriguing player for the next level. These two were once neck and neck as athletes, but injuries have put limitations on expectations for Giles going forward. Adebayo will definitely be a highlight waiting to happen from the moment he sets foot in the league.
Edge: Adebayo
Scoring ability
Adebayo’s scoring is directly connected to the fact that he’s a plus-athlete. John Calipari tried to add some low post moves to Adebayo’s game, but beside a jump hook not much really stuck for him during his freshman year in Lexington. Adebayo was effective out of the pick-and-roll, mostly finishing these plays with alley oop slam dunks. Adebayo also was able to make a living on second chance plays and putbacks around the rim. His free throw percentage of 65.3 percent isn’t horrible and his shot could potentially stretch out to 15-17 feet if he puts in the necessary work.
Giles was a go-to guy on every level and every team he played for leading up to his freshman year with the Blue Devils. Giles was sidelined for the beginning of the season and never seemed fully comfortable operating within Duke’s offense once he returned to the court. However, Giles has an array of interior moves that he uses and can score in one-on-one matchups in the post. Giles was actually most effective out of the pick-and-roll. He is a tremendous screener and Duke definitely used that to their advantage. As a roll man he has the craftiness and touch to finish around the basket.
Neither of these players will immediately be the number one option on whatever team selects them on Thursday night. Both have showed the ability to work well out of the staple of NBA offenses today, the pick-and-roll. Giles, however, offers more versatility now as he is able to score on the low block and also has a reliable jumpshot from the 12-15 foot range.
Edge: Giles
Defensive ability
While Giles gets the edge offensively, he left a lot to be desired on the other end of the floor. He has never shown a real knack as a defender at any point in his career. He has a few flashes where he makes a hustle play or gets his hand on a ball around the rim, but there are a lot of questions for him on that end. The lack of time on the court in the preseason didn’t help at Duke and he had moments where he looked completely lost on the floor as a defender. He was also very foul prone with the Blue Devils. He’ll need proper coaching to turn into a league average defender and if he doesn’t gain any of his athleticism back he will not offer much versatility as a defender either.
Adebayo’s athletic prowess lends itself well to the defensive end. He was the anchor of Kentucky’s defense in the interior. With the plus-athletes surrounding him on the perimeter the Wildcats would funnel the opposition into the paint and let Adebayo deal with them at the rim. He also was able to keep players in front of him on the perimeter. He’s not a lockdown defender on the perimeter, but he does well for a player his size.
Adebayo’s path to being a league average defender is less murkier than Giles and without the additional injury concerns it is easier to put faith in Adebayo’s development than Giles’.
Edge: Adebayo
Giles has been the can’t-miss prospect in his class for many years. He had everything NBA teams could want out of a modern big and produced at a high-level every step of the way. There still the talent there out of Giles and even though he didn’t set the NCAA ablaze in his lone season there if he reaches his maximum potential he could become the best player from this draft. With Giles it all comes down to how he recovers from multiple knee surgeries. The last time he dealt with a torn ACL it took him a year before he was the same player. His rookie year will be a year removed from his most recent knee injury and if he is able to get back to the old Giles then he will be the steal of the draft.
Adebayo is still young enough that there’s a chance that he can add more to his game. During his pre draft workouts he’s been surprising teams with his ability to shoot from the perimeter. If that translate to his play on the court then he could become a very interesting piece in the NBA. Adebayo is much more likely to be a plug-and-play option following the draft than Giles will be right away.
Giles has the potential to be a superstar in the NBA down the road whereas Adebayo’s most likely outcome is that he is a key rotational piece for a contending team.
Edge: Giles
Giles and Adebayo were two of the top big men in their high school class. Neither had the type of impact that we thought they would during their only year in college. However, both are top-30 level talents in this draft and if they are able to meet their potentials they will be two players that are going to be intrical parts to winning teams in the future.


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