Friday, June 23, 2017

Zags' Collins, Williams-Goss hear their names called during NBA draft

Posted By on Fri, Jun 23, 2017 at 11:53 AM

click to enlarge Zach Collins was the No. 10 pick in Thursday night's NBA draft, going from Sacramento to Portland in a trade. - GU ATHLETICS
  • GU Athletics
  • Zach Collins was the No. 10 pick in Thursday night's NBA draft, going from Sacramento to Portland in a trade.

In a season of new milestones, add another to the list for Gonzaga men's basketball. Freshman phenom Zach Collins became the first one-and-done player in program history, getting drafted by the Sacramento Kings — then traded to the Portland Trail Blazers — with the 10th overall pick in the NBA draft Thursday night.

Nigel Williams-Goss joined the party a few hours later as the Utah Jazz selected him in the second round with 55th overall pick. This is the first time in 46 years that two Zags players were drafted the same night. In 1971, Howard Burford and Bill Quigg were drafted in the 11th and 15th rounds(!). 2002 saw Dan Dickau and international recruit Mario Kasan drafted, but Kasan was mired in contract controversies during his recruitment and never suited up for the Bulldogs.

Portland took advantage of their stockpile of picks, trading their 15th and 20th to move up and take Collins. It's an interesting move for the 41-41 team, as Collins immediately slots in as a back-up to Jusuf Nurkić, with the potential to learn the power forward position and play alongside him.

Collins' draft profile was interesting due to his limited minutes at Gonzaga. The 7-footer is considered the most NBA-ready rookie big man on defense by many scouts, and already possesses a diverse repertoire of post moves. Scouts also were excited by his surprising adeptness around the perimeter, where Collins shot 47 percent last year.

Collins could prove to be a major boon for the Blazers moving forward in this new-look NBA. If he can add strength without compromising his quickness, Collins could be a rare center who is able to defend against guards off of defensive switches. Offensively, he has shown that he can make 18-plus foot shots — essential in a 3-and-D league — albeit in an extremely small sample size (14 for 27, 51.9 percent).

Ideally, Collins develops his mid-range and perimeter offense and is utilized alongside Nurkić to create elite spacing. As previously mentioned, he'll have to develop physically and will also need to improve his passing and cut down on his fouls.
click to enlarge Nigel Williams-Goss was drafted by the Utah Jazz in the second round. - GU ATHLETICS
  • GU Athletics
  • Nigel Williams-Goss was drafted by the Utah Jazz in the second round.

For Williams-Goss, his decision to forgo his senior year and enter the professional world was proven correct. After hobbling off the court in a gutsy final game with Gonzaga, Williams-Goss knew that if he was going to accomplish his dream, he'd have to do it while his body was still willing and able.

Williams-Goss' draft profile was that of a typical, accomplished upper-class point guard. He has an elite basketball IQ with impeccable court vision and ball handling, with less-than-elite physical measurables. Williams-Goss won't be winning any speed trials, long jumps or dunk contests, but he is a talent who knows how to play within himself.

Getting drafted doesn't mean that Williams-Goss' challenges are not over. The Jazz drafted fellow point guard Donovan Mitchell from Louisville in the first round and already invested in young point guards Marcus Paige and Tyrone Wallace in last year's draft, with both landing in the NBA's developmental league.

Williams-Goss will be able to show his composure and craftiness during the Summer League, where a steady hand is a blessing in often-undisciplined exhibitions featuring younger players. Williams-Goss defied expectations in getting his name called Thursday night, and undoubtably doesn't plan on stopping there.

Eastern Washington's Jacob Wiley signed with the Brooklyn Nets on Friday. The undersized power wing has elite athleticism as an explosive leaper. The journeyman with an amazing story could be utilized as an energy guy off of the bench. At only 6-foot-6, Wiley was able to record 9.1 rebounds and 2.8 blocks per game. His mid-range game will have to be solidified, as he does not have a consistent perimeter game and he faces an uphill battle working in the paint at the next level.

Former Zags Przemek Karnowski and Jordan Mathews are still unsigned, but should get team invitations and perhaps snag a Summer League roster spot if they take advantage of their opportunities. Karnowski's challenge is that colossal (he's 7-1 and weighs more than 300 pounds) big men are NBA dinosaurs, thanks to the up-and-down style of play dominant around the league. Mathews could get an opportunity, thanks to his impeccable shooting stroke and perimeter play.
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