With news coming out recently that Nigel Williams-Goss is "on the fence" about whether he should return to Washington or declare for the NBA Draft, we decided to do a little point-counterpoint article to discuss the pros and cons of what the best decision would be for the to-be-junior point guard.
There is no way that declaring for the NBA Draft is the correct decision for Williams-Goss. He just plain isn't ready for the pros at this point in his career. He has two NBA-level skills. One of them is his floater. That thing is money. If he combined that with either A) NBA athleticism or B) range from the three-point line then I would say making the jump to the pros is the best choice for him. As it is, no.
Personally, I don't think a player should declare early for the draft unless he has a very high probability of being selected in the first round. The reason being that only players who are drafted in the first 30 selections receive any guaranteed money. Players who last until the second round have nothing guaranteed on their contracts. NWG isn't projected to go in that first round. Maybe he does want to bet on himself, he wouldn't be the first Husky guard to do so.
Let's take a look at how a scout would see Williams-Goss' game:
There were a lot of times when Williams-Goss was assigned to defend opposing wings while Andrew Andrews took on opposing point guards (during the rare occasions UW was playing man defense). The Husky point guard struggles with his foot speed. His ability to harass opposing ball-handlers is based off of strength, length and effort. He needs better quickness to be able to defend his position in the NBA. That isn't something that is easily gained, however. That means he needs to have another NBA-level skill developed to make up for his lack of lateral agility.
That skill is going to be shooting the basketball. His lack of even average athleticism (from an NBA standpoint) will prevent him from adding many skills, but a jumper is an ability that can be worked on no matter your athletic ability. Right now, his shot is hitchy and slow. His number one priority this off-season needs to be re-tooling this. He shot 25.6 percent from deep last season. That won't cut it as a point guard in the NBA without other elite skills. Change-of-pace and a floater can only get a player so far offensively.
The biggest things for him to work on with his jumper (aside from accuracy, which will be improved via improved form and many more repetitions): his pocket starts really low, almost at his knees. Some coaches remove the pocket altogether in order to speed up the release. He could do that, or raise his pocket to his waist. Either option will quicken his release. Once his shot reaches its shelf, there is a hitch. That is the bigger issue for him, and it is much more difficult to change than moving his shooting pocket. Assistant T.J. Otzelberger was at Iowa State during the 2012-13 season, and the Cyclones led the country in made threes per game. This might be Otz's duty.
I asked Sam Vecenie of CBSSports.com about his opinion on NWG's decision. Vecenie covers NCAA Basketball, NBA Draft and NBA. He echoed that he "100 percent" believes Williams-Goss should stay. When I spoke with Kevin O'Neill, he told me that Williams-Goss isn't even an NBA player. That may be a little strong, but at the very least the former USC Head Coach doesn't see him as close to ready for the NBA.
The final pieces to my argument aren't related to his pro prospects at this point. He is an Academic All-American (third team) while double majoring in psychology and communications. I don't see why he would leave that commitment only two years in. Also while finishing up that degree, he will get to play alongside one of the most heralded recruiting classes in the country, and potentially lead UW back to the Big Dance.
Please stay, Nigel. This is me acting like a Major League Baseball team in arbitration with a player: I say all the negative things I can about you despite wanting you around because you really do offer so much.
Should Nigel Williams-Goss go? Of course.
While it was a surprise last year that Nigel Williams-Goss tested the NBA waters last year, this year it’s no surprise that NWG is again contemplating leaving Montlake and forego the last two years of playing eligibility to enter his name in the NBA draft.
With NWG’s presence on the Washington roster along with incoming freshman Dejounte Murray, Marquese Chriss and David Crisp, it should improve the Husky team next season. But, will it improve NWG’s personal draft stock?
NWG has improved his stats since coming to Washington. In his freshman year, he averaged 13.4 points per game, averaging 4.4 assists and shooting 46.4% from the field. This past season, he averaged 15.6 points per game, 5.9 assists and shot 44.2% from the field.
This year NWG had games of 28, 30 and 31 points. He was as much as a go to guy as the Huskies had during the season. When he is on his game, NWG is an effective point guard that is a capable defender that can help out with rebounding on the defensive end. He can run a team and when all else fails break down defenders to deliver his signature floater in the lane.
One of the things that NWG has going for him is the success of Romar guards playing in the NBA. Nate Robinson, Isaiah Thomas and Tony Wroten were all guards that left early and were drafted by NBA teams. In addition, Will Conroy, Bobby Jones, Justin Dentmon, Justin Holiday and C.J. Wilcox are all guards that played for Romar that played in the NBA. Notably, Jones and Wilcox were drafted.
At the beginning of this past season, NWG was listed as one of the top Pac-12 NBA draft prospects by NBA prospect site Draft Express. He was even listed before eventual Pac-12 Player of the Year Joseph Young before the season started. At the beginning of this season, NWG was listed in mock drafts as a second round pick. That’s not a solid lock but its recognition that he was on the radar of scouts.
Most of the NBA Draft is built on potential and grooming talent to fit into their respective teams. NWG is a talented player that can fit into a cohesive system on the next level as a smart, competent point guard. NBA scouts will like NWG’s since he’s a "big" point guard and has a sharp mid-range game. NWG is a player that has the measurables and the potential. All that is needed is one team to like what he has to offer.
The time is right for NWG to leave. With Murray and the other freshmen coming in, one should expect the team dynamic to change. One might see more of the offense flow through Murray. If things work out, we should also see an improved Jernard Jarreau contributing in addition to senior-to-be Andrew Andrews. Add the potential of David Crisp and Marquese Chriss and the Huskies might improve on this year’s record. Of course, the Dawgs would be a better team if NWG stayed to play his junior season. Certainly, his steady point guard leadership would help a young team. But, his personal stats would suffer.
NWG is a smart individual. He would have gone to Harvard except for the bond he had with Coach Romar. Turning pro would be a calculated risk but one that NWG should take. We haven't even touched on the issue of a potential injury that could sideline his NBA hopes. He’s obviously thought of the jump since coming to UW and now would be as good as time as any to enter the NBA Draft.
Expect NWG to enter his name in the draft this spring. Sorry Dawg fans.