76ers

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. 

Brett Brown expects Sixers will have a GM by start of season

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Brett Brown expects Sixers will have a GM by start of season

Soon enough, the Sixers will have their next general manger.

Sixers head coach and interim GM Brett Brown told reporters on Tuesday he expects the team will have a GM before the season starts. The Sixers kick off their 2018-19 campaign on Oct. 16 against the Celtics.

Brown has been serving as interim GM since Bryan Colangelo's chaotic departure on June 7, navigating the Sixers through the draft and free agency with the help of assistant GM Ned Cohen, senior vice president of player personnel Marc Eversely and the rest of the front office. 

The team has reportedly interviewed internal candidates Cohen, Eversley, vice president of basketball operations Elton Brand and senior vice president of analytics and research Alex Rucker. Utah Jazz assistant general manager Justin Zanik and Houston Rockets executive vice president of basketball operations Gersson Rosas both reportedly had second interviews with the team.

Brown told reporters that he'll have a big role in choosing the next GM. While he's embraced the difficult dual responsibilities of interim GM and head coach, being able to focus on coaching his team would be beneficial heading into the season.

The Sixers begin training camp with media day on Friday. Their first preseason game is Sep. 28 at the Wells Fargo Center against Melbourne United.

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Report: Sixers' Zhaire Smith expected to return around Christmas

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Report: Sixers' Zhaire Smith expected to return around Christmas

According to a report that should shock no one, it doesn't sound like the Sixers are going to rush Zhaire Smith's recovery.

The Inquirer's Keith Pompey reports that the team expects the rookie to be available to play around Christmas. 

Smith suffered a Jones fracture in his left foot at Tim Grgurich's basketball camp in Las Vegas on Aug. 6 and had surgery on Aug. 9 (see story). 

While the timetable for recovery from a Jones fracture varies, Christmas is a conservative return date. Pompey reports that timeline is contingent on Smith being in shape and not suffering any setbacks.

Smith's potential was much more attractive to the Sixers than what they thought he could possibly contribute this season, so this is far from a serious blow to their immediate future. His offensive game will take time to develop as he transitions to the wing from a power-forward role in college. Still, his perimeter defense and special athleticism could help fill a need once he does return.

While he's sidelined, there may be an opportunity for No. 26 pick Landry Shamet to earn a role, although 2017 second-round pick Jonah Bolden could end up being the rookie who makes the biggest impact off the bench this season (see story). Smith's injury may also open up a little more room for Furkan Korkmaz to find a spot in the rotation.

Training camp for the Sixers begins with media day on Friday. The team's first preseason game is Sep. 28 against Melbourne United at Wells Fargo Center, and the regular-season opener is Oct. 16 in Boston.

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