It was the funnest time of the NBA year last week, when the NBA draft began the annual offseason shakeup and in the midst of the whole thing two Gonzaga Bulldogs punched their tickets into the NBA and I couldn’t be happier for them.
Both Nigel Williams-Goss and Zach Collins were guys that showed they could play with the best and now they are getting their shot.
The best part is they both stayed pretty local.
Williams-Goss was nabbed 55th overall by the Utah Jazz in a move that may prove exceptionally beneficial for the Jazz as they watch starting point guard George Hill flirt with other teams in free agency.
Williams-Goss will bring a steady, experienced hand to the Jazz as guy who rarely makes the wrong basketball play, but is also willing to hit the big shots if necessary.
And if the aforementioned Hill heads to a different team then there is a very real chance that Williams-Goss will find himself playing a lot of meaningful minutes this coming season.
The other Zag who was drafted is the real focus of my discussion.
Reserve center Zach Collins.
Anyone who watched Collins play saw that he was better than the man he played behind, but Gonzaga coach Mark Few went with experience over skill and was lucky enough that he had Collins buy into that mindset.
In essence he created the scariest monster in college basketball.
After wearing down your starting center with Przemek Karnowski’s massive frame, both coaches would look to their bench, but no one in the NCAA had a backup center with the skill set of Collins, so opposing coaches either put an inferior player on the floor to try and stop him or left their tired starter in for longer than they like to.
Collins was taken 10th overall by the Portland Trailblazer who traded two picks to move up and draft him.
He was that coveted.
This also makes him the highest draft pick out of Gonzaga since Adam Morrison, beating out last year’s number 11 pick Domantas Sabonis.
Collins is the prototype that was created when coaches and executives discuss their perfect big man.
He is a 7-footer who can score in the post, hit midrange shots, and hit 48 percent of his three point shots.
Defensively he can guard bigs down low and block shots all the while being able to switch off of other posts and guard smaller players due to his foot speed and length.
Collins is good fit for a Portland team that needed size during their 4-game sweep at the hands of eventual champs, the Golden State Warriors and size really was a factor.
When Portland’s starting big man Jusef Nurkic went down they struggled mightily and got blown out, but when he came back for game 3, the Blazers were able to compete with the Warriors for the whole game before bowing out respectfully.
Collins is the insurance policy that they won’t be size strapped like that again.
He and fellow draftee Caleb Swanigan, an All-American out of Purdue should become the NBA’s next great front court if they develop and hold true to their potential.
Pairing them up with a lethal scoring duo of Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum should help too.
The Bulldog program he leaves behind should be thrilled that he was able to make such an impact so quickly into his tenure there.
If Collins can parlay his draft position into a successful rookie season and career, it should be a benefit to the Zags program and hopefully help them lure more star recruits to Spokane.
The best part is that any Zag fans have roughly a ten hour trip either way if they want to see their new favorite NBA players play.
I know I’m looking forward to seeing them on the court.