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2017 NBA Draft Prospect Preview: Nigel Williams-Goss at the end of the second round is a steal

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Trading away Tim Frazier could land New Orleans his replacement at the 52nd overall pick

NCAA Basketball: Final Four-South Carolina vs Gonzaga Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

Nigel Williams-Goss was a top 40 recruit out of high school powerhouse Findlay Prep when he committed to Washington. In two years with the Huskies Williams-Goss averaged a healthy 14.5 points, 5.1 assists, and 4.5 rebounds while the team meandered around .500. After two seasons and zero games in the NCAA tournament, the sophomore guard grew disillusioned with Washington.

“I remember when he decided to leave Washington, I remember one time he wrote me and he’s like, ‘I don’t know, man, should I stay in college, should I look at trying to go pro, is it the NBA, if it’s overseas, where should I go to school?’” Alex Humble said. “He was feeling pretty stressed about it.”

Williams-Goss had his heart set on making it in the NBA. He transferred to Gonzaga, and after sitting out a year, led the Bulldogs to a 37-2 record, a number one seed, and the NCAA Final Four where they lost in the championship game to North Carolina. Along the way Williams-Goss led Gonzaga in both points and assists per game while functioning as a consummate coach on the floor.

NBA: New Orleans Pelicans at Utah Jazz Russ Isabella-USA TODAY Sports

After the New Orleans Pelicans traded Tim Frazier to the Washington Wizards for the 52nd pick, Williams-Goss immediately jumped into my mind as both a possible pick and replacement. Nigel Williams-Goss is a bigger point guard, standing 6’3” with a long 6’7.25” wingspan (Frazier was 5’11.75” with a 6’4” wingspan), but like Frazier, a capable contributor on the glass. As DraftExpress notes, no point guard was a better defensive rebounder than Williams-Goss. Unlike Tim Frazier, the book on Williams-Goss is that he prefers to play controlled and at a slower tempo. Of course, the massive front line for Gonzaga made playing at a slow pace preferable.

Defense is where Williams-Goss would project to be the biggest upgrade over Frazier. While Pelican fans grew to love Frazier’s ability to push the pace and get into the offense quickly, a Frazier switch leading to an easy basket on the other end was common place. Not so with Williams-Goss, writes Josh Riddell for DraftExpress.

Defensively, Williams-Goss has improved over his collegiate career and while he isn't an elite prospect with his average quickness, he does impact the game on this end with energy and smarts. He has been willing to take on the toughest defensive assignments, guarding players anywhere from the point guard to small forward positions and isn't one to back down from contact. This will allow him to be a versatile defender as he could be able to guard several different positions depending on his team's need. He may not become a lockdown defender with his size and lack of lateral quickness, but he showed a willingness to defend and a mental toughness to stay in front of his man.

There’s still work to be done for Williams-Goss, and at nearly 23 years old his potential ceiling is projected to be lower than most. Of course, if you’ve followed along, I’ve been harping against potential and youth in the second round for years on this site. It would be nice if Williams-Goss was a better shooter behind the arc at this point, where he shot a hair under 37% with Gonzaga. His free throw shooting, at a healthy 86.7%, gives me hope that there is still room for improvement from three. Length and basketball IQ, along with a simple willingness to defend, means Williams-Goss has the capacity to be a contributor on both ends of the floor. Age combined with limited athleticism is why he might be available when the Pelicans are on the clock with the 52nd pick.

Draft Express currently has Williams-Goss as the 60th pick in their latest mock draft. If Nigel Williams-Goss is still there when New Orleans is up for the second time in the second round, let’s hope Dell Demps agrees with me.