Well hey, it is the back court version of this article.
It is hard to lose a player of Nigel Williams-Goss’ caliber and say to yourself, we are going to actually be alright next season.
The thing is, the Zags are going to be alright next season. Few teams can say that after losing a player as impactful as NWG.
Let’s take a quick look at the back court, or what is remaining of it. As of now, the Zags have the following players:
- Josh Perkins, redshirt junior
- Silas Melson, senior
- Zach Norvell Jr., redshirt freshman
- Jesse Wade, incoming freshman
And that is excluding players like Rui Hachimura, Corey Kispert, Jeremy Jones, or anyone that will most likely see time at the three spot. Either way, the above three players will not have as much impact on filling the hole left by Williams-Goss.
Barring any random graduate transfers, the Zags starting back court will most likely consist of Perkins at point and Melson at shooting guard. The two will be immediately backed up by Norvell and Wade. That isn’t exactly the back court of a national title contender, but that is still the back court of a very good team.
There is no question about it. The Zags are going to be good next year, but they will not be as good as they were this year. There is nothing wrong with that. A few people might be shuddering at the thought of a Perkins/Melson starting combo again, but the circumstances of the 2015-16 season will be vastly different from the 2017-18 season.
Perkins will be a junior, and although the pressure of being the primary ball handler will be back on his shoulders, he demonstrated towards the end of the year that he can take care of the ball (despite what a lot of people want to give him credit for). In six games in the NCAA Tournament, facing some of the best defenses Gonzaga had faced all season, Perkins averaged 1.3 turnovers per game. He isn’t a freshman anymore, and although he occasionally makes dumb mistakes, most point guards occasionally made dumb mistakes.
The person who really wins by Williams-Goss’ departure is Melson. Melson will be a senior, and he reinvented himself this past season to really carve a role out on the team. Now, his role needs to change ever so slightly again. The Zags will need Melson to score a bit more, and luckily for us, he upped every single shooting percentage across the board this season. In no way will the Zags need 20 points per game from Melson, but don’t be surprised if Melson is averaging more like 12 points per game next season.
The addition of Wade will help keep the Zags dangerous from the three point line, and Norvell is another big guard in the vein of Melson who has a knack for scoring. Wade has history at point guard in high school, and he should be able to provide backup for Perkins during games.
All of that goes to say the Zags won’t be nearly as deep in the back court as this season, but they will still be dangerous.