Nigel Williams-Goss

The case for Gonzaga's Nigel Williams-Goss as a Sixers' 2nd-round pick

The case for Gonzaga's Nigel Williams-Goss as a Sixers' 2nd-round pick

Over the weeks leading up to the 2017 NBA draft, we'll be making cases for the Sixers to draft several prospects. Our series will kick off with options at No. 3 (or trade ups/downs) followed by second-round possibilities. The 2017 NBA draft will take place on June 22 at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York.

Nigel Williams-Goss
Position
: PG
School: Gonzaga
Height: 6-4
Weight: 182
Wingspan: 6-7¼ 

Gonzaga University has had some great college players in recent years. Go back over the last decade or so, and guys like Adam Morrison, Kevin Pangos and Kyle Wiltjer all spent time in Spokane. But not until this season had future hall of fame coach Mark Few’s team made the Final Four. Much of that breakthrough has to be credited to the Zags’ point guard, Nigel Williams-Goss, who, if he had stayed healthy in the national championship game, might have been able to lead his team to one more win.

Williams-Goss spent the first two seasons of his collegiate career at the University of Washington but left after a sophomore campaign in which he was the team’s best player. He wasn’t happy with the way the program was going, which isn’t hard to believe considering this season the Huskies won just nine games even with Markelle Fultz on their roster this year. 

After sitting out the 2015-2016 season due to transfer rules, Williams-Goss was an immediate difference maker for the Zags. As the West Coast Conference’s player of the year and a second-team AP All-American, he averaged 16.3 points, 6.0 rebounds and 4.7 assists. It’s hard to ask anyone to be that consistently productive in multiple facets. After getting his degree, Williams-Goss elected to forego his final year of NCAA eligibility and enter the draft. 

The case for Williams-Goss
His greatest advantage is his size. A 6-7 wingspan is desirable for a point guard, and he can use it to make up for his less than stellar athleticism on both ends of the floor. Often it helped him get to the rack when electing to keep the rock on the pick and roll, which was a big part of the Zags’ offense with the inside presence of Przemek Karnowski and Zach Collins. And the extra inches allow him to guard multiple positions. 

Offensively, his game is well-rounded. His shooting numbers are solid, and 48 percent from the field makes up for his 36 percent from three. But the most encouraging stat lies in Williams-Goss’ turnovers, or rather lack thereof. Critics are skeptical of his composure when pressured at high speeds, but with just 2.4 turnovers per 40 attempts, he’s careful with the ball.

The case against Williams-Goss
It’s fair to argue that Williams-Goss’ numbers were puffed up a bit thanks to the circumstances he was in. At Washington, he was a go-to guy, so you’d sure hope he’d score in double-figures. At Gonzaga, he played in the West Coast Conference, which pretty much had no answer to the Zags’ level of play. He played bad teams and stuffed the stat sheet.

Plus, he lacks that one blatantly marketable skill. Out of his athleticism, shooting and defending, none are first-rate. His percentages do take a slight dip when shooting off the dribble, and that’s a tad alarming for a point guard.

Analysis
Williams-Goss isn’t even a lock to get picked. As of now, DraftExpress predicts he’ll go to the Knicks with the 58th selection. Regardless, he’ll get a chance with someone and try to prove himself this summer. Philadelphia is not the most likely destination. 

The point guard position is crowded here. The Sixers want to play Ben Simmons at the one. Jerryd Bayless and T.J. McConnell are under contract for the next two seasons. Another point presence, albeit a scoring one that will act as a combo guard, appears to be coming out of the first round in the form of Fultz. While there is some upside in taking Williams-Goss, it’s hard to see him finding a fit. Should the Sixers’ value his size and see room for improvement, maybe they take him late in the second round and give him some time in the summer league and D-League. 

NBA Draft Combine: Seven prospects who could fit the Sixers

NBA Draft Combine: Seven prospects who could fit the Sixers

With the NBA draft lottery just eight days away, the draft process is in full swing.

The NBA Draft Combine takes place this Thursday and Friday and while many potential top picks are skipping the two-day event, there will still be a bundle of talent among the 67 attendees. 

If draft positions stay the same, the Sixers would draft fourth overall while also holding four second-round selections. There is about a 50-50 chance the Lakers' pick, which is top-three protected, will convey this draft (Check out our NBA Draft Lottery Simulator for more). With the ability to trade up and down, the Sixers can really play in any part of the draft they want. 

Therefore, beyond watching the presumed top picks in-depth, it's worth taking a peek into the rest of the draft and who can fit the Sixers' needs. There will be plenty of time to talk about Markelle Fultz and De'Aaron Fox, the only presumed top-five talents attending the combine. 

Here are some of the other combine attendees to keep an eye on:

OG Anunoby, forward, Indiana (6-8/215)
There's always potential value to be had with injured players. The Eagles knew that last week when they got a top-15 talent with their mid-second-round pick. Anunoby will need to answer questions about his health after knee surgery ended his sophomore season early. Anunoby won't be able to participate in 5-on-5 competition during the combine, but teams will get their first look at where he is in the recovery process.

Anunoby is currently projected to be chosen in the middle of the first round after being a surefire top-10 pick before his injury. The Sixers would need to trade down (or up) to get him and he is still a project offensively, but there's the very real chance he could be an elite defensive wing almost immediately. He's that talented with the ability to guard nearly anyone. 

Luke Kennard, guard, Duke (6-6/202)
Kennard is another mid-first-round talent and he'd fit a significant need for the Sixers: Shooting. There are doubts about how the other parts of Kennard's game translate to the NBA, but the Duke product is a lethal shooter. The sophomore guard shot 43.8 percent from long range last season while taking over five shots from deep per game. 

What else Kennard can do is the issue. He was a defensive liability at times for the Blue Devils and his ability to create may not be suitable for the next level. Still, elite shooting translates loud and clear and the Sixers could use a spot-up sniper next to Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid to space the floor.

Jonathan Jeanne, center, France (7-2/210)
I know, I know. A center. In the immediate future, Jeanne doesn't fit the Sixers. The potential second-round pick is a raw player currently overseas and he hasn't yet had much of an opportunity to showcase his skills. What intrigues NBA teams is that he's 7-foot-2, has a 7-foot-7 wingspan and can go out to the three-point line. That's a modern center.

There are a few reasons Sixers fans should be intrigued. First, the combine is his first chance to strut his stuff in the U.S. Beyond that, the Sixers probably don't have room on their roster to hold all four of their second-round picks. If they find that they can't trade out of those spots, Jeanne could be a potential stash as he continues to develop in France. And lastly, adding center depth actually makes sense for the Sixers, as the end of 2016-17 made all too clear.

Dwayne Bacon, guard/forward, Florida State (6-5/202)
Jonathan Isaac is the most high-profile wing in this draft from the Seminoles, but Bacon is worth monitoring as well. The sophomore wing was one of the most productive players for an overaching FSU team, taking the offensive load much more often than Isaac, whose game is more projectable. Bacon is the type of player who could contribute offensively early on.

He'll be 22 in August, so he isn't young by draft standards. Still, there's room to grow in his game, especially if he can better utilize his size defensively. For now, he's more of a slasher than the shooter the Sixers may need. 

Nigel Williams-Goss, guard, Gonzaga (6-4/182)
Let's get to some more guards. You may remember Williams-Goss from his time leading the Zags to the cusp of their first national championship, only to be denied by North Carolina. Williams-Goss dove headfirst into the draft, hiring an agent and forgoing his senior year with Gonzaga. 

A traditional point guard with average shooting, the Gonzaga floor general looks like a late second-round pick, if he's drafted at all. However, he could still be an upgrade for the Sixers' bench. His 5-on-5 performance is something to watch beyond his measurables.

Davon Reed, guard, Miami (6-6/208)
For a three-and-D guard at an ACC school, Reed stays surprisingly out of the spotlight. It makes sense that a four-year, older player could slip under the radar and Reed is currently projected to go undrafted. Still, a 6-foot-6 wing who can drain threes and defend well is a good value late in the draft. In other years, Reed would have more of a chance to get picked. Or if he was an international player you could stash.

He's a player who needs to prove himself at the combine. He averaged over 14 points per game to help lead Miami into the NCAA Tournament this spring and could profile as a bench rotation piece for any team. The 2017 draft is packed to the brim with potential, so late second-round picks will have a lot of a value this year.

Tyler Dorsey, guard, Oregon (6-4/180)
Mr. March for Oregon declared for the draft with the intention to sign with an agent, leaving the Ducks after two seasons and a Final Four run. Dorsey was front and center for that run, hitting big shots in the clutch, particularly to finish off the team's regional games. The 21-year-old guard can certainly shoot.

Yet leaving for the draft was questionable. He's ranked 77th overall by Draft Express and could go undrafted, so the combine is that much more essential. He's not the type of guy who could pass on this opportunity. A shooting guard that can spot up is right up the Sixers' alley, whether drafting in the second round or trying to find players to compete in training camp.