Nigel Williams-Goss was a McDonald's All-American coming out of Findlay Prep (Nev.). He was looked at as an immediate impact player for the 2013-14 Husky basketball team: somebody who, if everything broke right, could run the offense of a team anchored by C.J. Wilcox and Jernard Jarreau back to the NCAA Tournament.
While the team didn't quite reach those lofty goals -- considering the rest of the roster, the goals might have been a bit out of reach -- Williams-Goss didn't disappoint. He might have exceeded all but the most ambitious individual expectations set upon him. The per-game statistics were a sight to behold, as he did everything for a team that needed everything done. 13.4 points, 4.4 rebounds, 4.4 assists, 1.1 steals -- he did it all.
There were lumps: he turned the ball over nearly three times per game and struggled against heavy ball pressure (still does). Those are expected warts that come from a freshman point guard, warts that everyone was willing to accept in the growth of Nigel Williams-Goss.He has improved in that area, even if he is still a little bit turnover-prone. His assist-to-turnover ratio has improved (1.5 to 2.1), his turnover percentage has dropped (21.4 to 18.4) and his assist percentage has increased (26.9 to 37.0). We would like to see the turnovers to drop a little bit more, but improvement is improvement.
His scoring is up about one point per game. If he could have kept up his efficiency from the field while improving his scoring average, or vice versa, then that would have been seen as a definite win and a sign of improvement from the UW lead guard. He hasn't. His usage is higher, as should be expected with the departure of Wilcox and Perris Blackwell. Typically, if a player is relied upon more, his efficiency from the field will wane, as defenses key on him more. There have been many studies on this, and it is generally accepted among the basketball community that there is an inverse correlation between efficiency and usage. His increase in usage along isn't enough to explain his worrying drop in efficiency from the field.
His eFG% (field goal percentage where a made three is worth 1.5x a made two, to account for the extra point scored -- a much better approximation of efficiency from the field than FG%) is down significantly. A big part of this is because he is relying more on two-point field goal attempts to score, with over 70 percent of his points coming from two-point field goals, up from 63.5 percent last season.
There could be several causes for that: he is attempting more twos, making a higher percentage of twos, or making less threes. It is a combination.
He is only shooting slightly less from deep than last season (three percent difference in the rate of threes he takes versus twos) but is hitting at a much lower rate, 20.4 percent versus 35.6 percent. Scouts weren't sold on his jumper coming out of Findlay Prep, and his shooting last season was a pleasant surprise. It wasn't going to be kept up.
His jumper isn't aesthetically pleasing: it has several hitches and his upper body doesn't appear to be in sync with his lower body 100% of the time. Maybe it is the results skewing my view, but it seems worse to the eyes this year than last season. Add that to the fact that he is getting less open catch and shoot looks from the corners, and his percentage is bound to go down. Nobody saw this drastic of a drop coming, however.
So, his three-point shooting percentage is down, that will cause any player to be more reliant on twos. His field goal percentage at the rim has improved from 59.6 percent to 66.7 percent, a significant improvement. A year in a college weight room will help with that. One thing that probably changes with each scorekeeper, skewing the data on this, is whether a floater is considered an attempt at the rim or a two-point jumper.
His percentage on two-point jumpers has dropped from 45.4 percent to 40.9 percent. It doesn't seem like his floater is less effective than last season, which means his jumper really is broken or floaters are considered attempts at the rim. Again, that probably varies from each shot attempt and from scorekeeper to scorekeeper. Regardless, it is more regression in his offensive efficiency.
Even with the improvement in his ball-handling, the dip in his shooting percentages has caused his O-Rating (via statsheet.com) to drop. He was at 102.4 last season, and now he is barely above average at 10.4: good for 60th in the Pac-12.
He has improved his defense, somewhat offsetting the loss of shooting touch. His on-ball defense still leaves some to be desired, but his ability there as well as his off-ball awareness has improved. Not only that, but his steal percentage has increased to what is now 20th in the conference at 2.2 percent. The rebounding numbers are better, but not significantly enough to where we can rule out statistical noise.
There still is only a pair of players in all of college basketball who are averaging as many points, rebounds and assists as Williams-Goss. He plays over 35 minutes per game, serving as a captain and as the focal point of the team offensively. NWG is indispensable, and even more so with the dismissal of Robert Upshaw.
Overall, this year's version of Nigel Williams-Goss is better than last season's rendition, by a small margin. If he can fix the issues with his jumper, look out world, Washington has a potential National Player of the Year candidate down the road. That is a big if, however.
Stats via statsheet.com and hoop-math.com