It’s not the NBA Draft unless the Utah Jazz select one of the most important players from the National Runner-Ups. Nigel Williams-Goss had himself an impressive year at Gonzaga, leading them to a #1 seed and all they way to the last few possessions of the title game. The Jazz decided that he’d had enough contact with John Stockton while up in Spokane that they took him with the 55th pick of the draft.
I reached out to Peter Woodbury of Slipper Still Fits and asked him a few questions so we could get to know Nigel a little better.
Why should Jazz fans be excited about this pick?
“Nigel Williams-Goss was a second-team All American in his only season with Gonzaga, where he was the face of the squad and led the Zags to their first Final Four (and beyond) in school history. He is a veteran player, having played three seasons (with a redshirt year for transferring), and finished fifth in Ken Pomeroy's Player of the Year rankings.
Overall, he does everything right and few things wrong. He improved on every aspect of his game across the board when he arrived at Gonzaga, and his junior year showed it, averaging career highs in points (16.8), rebounds (6.0), and steals (1.7). He is by no means the sexiest pick out there, but the Jazz are picking up a complete player who should be able to contribute right off the bat.”
What type of player do you see Nigel Williams-Goss becoming?
“There are plenty of players like Williams-Goss in the NBA. Solid bench players who carve out long careers when they find a system that works for them. He has the basketball IQ and decision making skills to be a contributor on offense, and he is a tough defender at the college level. He isn't going to be an All-Star any time soon, but he also isn't going to be the worst person on the bench--his work ethic won't allow it.”
When did you know this kid would be good? What was his signature moment/game?
“If we are talking in just his year at Gonzaga, one of his biggest stand out games was on the road against BYU. The Zags were in pursuit of going undefeated throughout the regular season, and playing at BYU was one of the two biggest pitfalls seemingly in the way. It isn't easy to win at BYU, especially when you are Gonzaga. NWG silenced the crowd, and then some, finishing with 33 points, 7 rebounds, and four assists, all while shooting 66 percent from the floor.”
What are his biggest strengths? What does he need to develop the most?
“NWG's biggest strength is probably his IQ. Remember, this is a kid that was choosing originally between Harvard and the University of Washington out of high school. He is one of the smartest players to pass through Gonzaga's rank, and that stretches from being studious off the court to being studious on the court. He rarely makes bad decisions, bad passes, or bad turnovers.
And that is how he makes up for his overall slight lack of athleticism. Williams-Goss is hardly the strongest and fastest guard on the floor, but he might be the craftiest.”
How do you think he will fit on the Jazz?
“The Jazz have quite a few point guards sitting on the depth charts, so I wouldn't be surprised to see him start the season in the D League. Again, NWG was about as safe of a pick as you can make in the NBA Draft. He isn't going to blow the ceiling off, but he will be an asset to the team.”
It will be intersting to see if Nigel can stick. At worst I think he’ll br itilized as 2 way D League guy that could work his way onto the roster. Speaking of D League, be sure to come out and see the new Jazzmen in a couple weeks!