Archie Goodwin: The wanted

PHOENIX – The last time Phoenix Suns general manager drafted a Kentucky guard who left school too early and without a jump shot, it turned out pretty well. Phoenix picked Rajon Rondo 21st overall in 2006 for McDonough’s Celtics, and it didn’t take long for the lanky, driven point guard to help Boston to an NBA title.

History repeated itself on Thursday. This time, McDonough was working for the Suns.

The general manager took 18-year-old Kentucky guard Archie Goodwin in the 2013 NBA Draft, and McDonough can only hope it turns out so well this time around. Overshadowed by the Suns failing to get a franchise-changing perimeter scorer at the top of the draft was the fact that, well, they think they got one anyway.

Phoenix made a seemingly odd move to swap their 30th pick for the 29th — which became Goodwin — and Malcolm Lee’s contract worth just more than $800,000. Seemingly inconsequential, the trade ensured the Suns would get Goodwin, a hot commodity toward the end of the first round, McDonough said.

“We had Archie rated significantly higher than where he got picked, and there was a significant dropoff between him and the next player that was on our list,” McDonough said. “We didn’t want to mess around and run the risk he wouldn’t be there. We tried to get up higher than we did.

“And then right after we got him,” McDonough added, “it was funny. My phone starting blowing up – a lot of calls and texts from other teams around the league saying, ‘Darn it, that was our guy. We were trying to get a pick, we were right behind you.’”

The Suns wanted Goodwin just as much as Goodwin wanted them.

“This is a team I wanted to play for,” Goodwin said Friday, when the Suns introduced him. “I feel really comfortable here.”

Two workouts with the Suns and a dinner with McDonough sold the franchise on the young guard’s upside. Goodwin’s maturity came across in that dinner, and so did the wish to play in Phoenix.

Goodwin averaged 14.1 points, 4.6 rebounds and 2.7 assists per game for John Calipari’s team last season despite having a raw skillset. The upside that could make him a future star in the NBA comes in part because of his athleticism and also because of his instincts that made him relatively successful for lacking a jump shot. But it’s Goodwin’s drive to get better and his aggression that made him one of the best penetrating rim-attackers in NCAA hoops last year.

“I will say right now my strength will really be attacking the ball, attacking the rim and making plays for myself and others, and being aggressive and confident,” said Goodwin, who took 7.9 free throws per 40 minutes pace-adjusted, which ranked fourth among Draft Express’ top shooting guard prospects in the draft. “My competitive edge that I have really sets me apart.”

Is he a point guard?

Goodwin calls himself a point guard but his inexperience makes him a longshot to be that right away. Considering his 6-foot-5 frame, 6-foot-10 wingspan and his affinity for attacking the rim in transition and off pick-and-rolls (14.7 percent of his offense was from the pick-and-roll and he shot 51 percent in those situations), Goodwin can immediately play shooting guard on both ends of the floor. But is he a point guard?

Maybe down the road. He certainly has the natural instincts and willingness to be a creator for others.

“I feel like I have the athletic tools to really set my apart from guys,” Goodwin said when asked why he can play point guard. “I’m 6’5, I have a 6’10 wingspan. A lot of point guards in the league don’t have that. I can use that to my strengths.”

ESPN Stats and Info writer Ryan Feldman compared Goodwin to two other scoring point guards in Tyreke Evans and Russell Westbrook, and the similarities make sense. But Evans was moved out of the point guard position after a few years in the NBA, and Westbrook has fought the perception that he’s too far away from the traditional mold of a point.

For Goodwin, the inability to shoot well consistently is another comparison to Rondo. Hornacek said after Goodwin’s public workout in Phoenix that he shot the ball extremely well. And the Suns’ new coach is confident Goodwin has the work ethic to take tools given to him and apply them individually. The hardest part, Hornacek said, is applying techniques at game speed.

“Archie has shown us he’s going to work hard and we can give him those drills and he’ll go through them hard,” Hornacek said. “That’ll make him better. The upside for Archie is he’s 18 years old.”

So in the near future, Goodwin will first have to prove he’s worthy of playing right away — no matter at which position. If he can do that, there’s no doubt he can be eased into a point guard role alongside Goran Dragic or Kendall Marshall, just as Dragic spent time alongside Steve Nash as a youngster.

Goodwin is just happy to be in the NBA.

“I have a lot of room to grow,” he said. “I’m only 18. I can get a lot stronger, I can a lot more consistent in shooting and get my dribbling better and, you know, get a better IQ for the game.”

“Just to here my name called in general was a relief.”

  • Scott

    I’m glad McD publicly mentioned that his phone blew up after he picked Goodwin. Goodwin’s going to need the occasional boost to his confidence over the next year or two, I think.

    In no way do I see him as a PG, though I don’t mind if he practices that way, as that will improve his ability to see the floor, his handling, his passing, and so forth.

    Improving his PG type skills and fixing his shot are the two big things I want him to work on this year.

  • Ty-Sun

    At first I thought the talk from Horny meant that Goodwin just needed to improve his passing skills. Now it really sounds as though he wants him to become a PG. If it works, great. If not let me be one of the first to condemn Horny and McD as fools.

    Counting on Goodwin to be a PG just makes me rethink ALL of my opinions on McD and Hornacek. Now I’m beginning to really be worried that the Suns might be bottom dwellers in the NBA for many years.

  • Scott

    @Ty-Sun -

    It’s hard to know what the Suns really think of Goodwin. In a way, he’s a bit like Hornacek. The Sixers tried playing Hornacek as a PG, they grew disappointed, traded him, and when he went to Utah he played as SG and did very well. Like Hornacek, Goodwin is really a SG.

    However, Goodwin apparently sees himself as a PG. I can see where it might be instructive for him to play at that spot a bit, and it might put a little pressure on Marshall to get scoring. I think most Suns fans were appalled at how tentative Marshall played last year. IMO, he played scared.

    The Suns need a PG that is going to be confident, aggressive, look for the transition bucket first, and if that’s not there then actively probe to create a shot for himself or someone else.

    The Suns picked up 2 combo guards in this draft: Goodwin and Lee. We’ll see in Summer League if the competition inspires Marshall at all.

    But ultimately I believe Goodwin slides into the SG spot.

  • Azbballfan

    I agree, theres no reason Goodwin cant do better than Marshalls 3 points and 3 assists a game in 13 minutes average

    If he blows the suns away at point down the road, great, that means we can move brown, dragic, or marshall and

    use them as assetts without gutting the team

    Go the Houston Rockets route and give players chances, get young, get assetts and strike with the right trade

    it worked for Houston, why cant it work for us?

    I think the Suns got a steal here at #29 until Goodwin proves otherwise

  • Morgan

    I agree with Scott. I think it’s vital for all 2 guards to be able to have solid pg skills. Look at Reddick the guy is a 2 guard but can play in pick and roll. I rather have a guy who can create for himself and others instead of just being a shooter.

    I loved Goodwin coming out high school. I didn’t get to watch him at Kentucky. I did watch some games and highlights on you tube and the guy is arguably the best finisher in the draft.

    He needs to learn to create for others, work on his jumper, and his dribble. I noticed his dribbling is very loose and unpolished. If he develops a crossover like Westbrook he will be scary.

    He also has a nba body. He’s thin but well built and looks to be able add a lot more strength, which will bode well for him.

  • scott

    I hope they don’t play Archie at PG because that’s what ruined his season last year, he’s a super athletic 2 guard who excels at attacking the basket and finishing at the rim. If he can fix his shot and learn to take better shots he’s got a higher upside than Mclemore because his agressive playing style and slashing abilities are already better than Mclemore will ever develope. Archie was averaging 19 ppg last year in November but Calipari was dead set on making him a PG and it ruined his season and dropped him out of the top 5 picks where he was being projected to go.

  • Suns4Life

    Why are all of u so mad he might be a pg. If that works out it will be nuts. he is 6″5 and still growing with a 6’10 wing span are u kidding me he would give everyone trouble at the pg pos in the nba. U guys just need to trust are new coach and GM.

  • Azbballfan

    Goodwin kind of reminds me of another guy the Suns foolishly traded away in the disasterous Hedo Turkoglu experiment, Leandro Barbosa

    Not a pure point, but has decent passing skills and looks to score and get to the basket and finish

    Barbosa is one of those players we again got nothing for in the old regime

    Turkoglu played for us for like what 6 weeks?

    I hope Goodwin turns into the next Barbosa for us, backup point doesnt seem like it fits right now, but scorer off the bench sixth man type does


    in this years finals the suns will win in 6 games against the heat..a thrilling triple over time that they almost lose but an archie slash and finish will seal the deal.

  • Pix

    Maybe it’s just me, but I think Marshall and Goodwin potentially will be an exciting combo! Especially on the run.
    I’d also like to think that Marshall would be giving him some nice easy looks to help develop that jump shot.

    Been some negative calls on the Len drafting, too. But I for one think we drafted well! Big, athletic and skilled, there is no centre like that next year, but there sure are a lot of good forwards!

    Hoping one, maybe even 2 lottery picks we can really fill out this roster with skill and athleticism!

  • Azbballfan

    The Suns have not drafted a guy who turned into a star in 10 years, i dont think Len will be the kind of superstar stoudemire was when he was here, but theres no reason Len cant have a Chris Kaman/Marc Gasol type of career

    You need guys like that

    one thing i dont get, why were the Suns so infatuated with Michael Carter Williams with his 6 foot 5 size and skills when they got someone just as big and even more talented with the 29th pick in Goodwin?

    (and he is supposedly gonna be developing as a PG)

    must have been just predraft diligence by McMiracle?

  • Scott

    @Azbballfan -

    A year or so ago, MCW and Goodwin looked similar in HS. MCW was actually a SG, I believe, and was carrying the scoring load for his team.

    It was in college that MCW transitioned into the PG role, and somehow he lost his scoring ability. So he became a 6′ 6″ PG, which is intriguing, but not as intriguing as a 6′ 6″ scoring SG with PG skills.

    My guess is that the Suns had him back a second time to check his SG skills.

    Anyway, while I don’t mind the Suns exploring ways to improve Goodwin’s ability to see plays and make the right pass, I want to be sure we don’t lose his ability to score. That’s what I think he’s here to do: be a crunch time scorer.

  • DBreezy

    While I personally see Goodwin as a 2 or a combo at times, I’m willing to see McD/Horny’s plan out for a bit. After all, few saw Avery Bradley as a 2 coming out of Texas. Most saw him as a backup 1 who would struggle to get minutes behind Rondo.

    Goodwin isn’t a natural point, but he’s a willing passer so he’s got a good shot. His jumper isn’t broken, it’s just inconsistent from what I’ve seen. He changes his release point which is often too low and like a lot of youngins he loses confidence when a few miss.

    With his size/explosiveness, if they really plan on using him at the one I think they’re going to start off working heavily on his FT and FT range pullup jumper. He’s taller/longer than Westbrook and personally I think he’s better at attacking and finishing at his age then Russell was. If he gets that devastating pullup Westbrook got, he could make himself a problem at the 1 even as he was still refining the other aspects of his game.

  • DBreezy

    “the early 2000s, John Hollinger’s research showed that centers taken in the lottery but outside the top three were almost invariably busts. The theory was that centers were so valuable that any who could actually play would be taken early; teams then draft a center for need later in the lottery and end up with guys like DeSagana Diop, Chris Mihm or Todd Fuller. But a review of the last 10 years finds that this axiom is no longer true. Since 2005, Andrew Bynum, Brook Lopez, Joakim Noah, Andre Drummond, DeMarcus Cousins and Jonas Valanciunas have all been worthwhile centers drafted between picks 4 and 14.

    Interesting tidbit from Hoopsworld.

  • Scott

    ^^ If the Suns are looking at dealing Marshall (and the twins), I don’t mind Goodwin being used as backup PG.

  • hawki

    Well said Scott…..I agree in the crunch time scorer analysis….Goodwin has that demeanor & ability tho it make take a few years.
    Goodwin should be fine in transition but will probably struggle in the half-court set initially.
    Once Goodwin develops a reliable 15-18 foot jumper to keep defenses from slacking off then he will be money.

    Keeping Shannon Brown around for another year while Goodwin develops is the prudent thing to do.

    ps….Kenny Kadji has signed with the Cavs…..sigh

  • Scott

    The more I look at it, the more it seems to me that the intention is to move Marshall, if no one else.

    You move Marshall and this is how it falls out:

    PG – Dragic, Goodwin
    G – Lee
    SG – Tucker, Brown

    That’s a reasonable set-up for a back court.

    SF – Dudley, Marcus
    F – Beasley
    PF – Scola, Markieff
    PF/C – Oriakhi, (Frye)
    C – Gortat, Len

    Pretty much everything falls neatly into place if you remove Marshall.

  • DBreezy

    I think Marshall’s on thin ice, but I don’t see him getting moved as they won’t get anything back that makes it worthwhile. He’ll start the season as the backup 1 and possibly see time in two pg lineups with either Dragic or Goodwin depending on how he progresses this offseason.

    They kept Brown, but I see that as more of a move to see if they can use him as a trade asset and a little insurance. SPD still hasn’t arrested Beas off an investigation that began in January I think. So he’s probably here at the 3 along with Marcus Morris and Duds, meaning Jared will likely share some 2 time with Tucker again. Brown’s role might not be drastically different than it was last season.

    In the end I don’t know that anything falls neatly into place with this roster, but it’s a means to an end.

  • pece

    Well, nobody is mentioning playing scheme with 2 PGs. That was announced, and for sure it seems attractive. In this combination the role for PG is slightly different, no need for classical PG. Both, Goran and Archie, can play off-ball, and Archie with time and experiences will be more closer with PG tasks.

  • Dominik

    I’m fine with Goodwin. At his age none of his weaknesses should be a real problem. IMO Hornacek can help him a lot with his shooting mechanisms, his frame is a matter of time and work ethic. At his young age he should be able to drop some habits like taking the ball down to his knees before shooting in a catch & shoot situation or off the dribble. Since our current wing players prefer not to attack the rim, he might be great playing with Dragic.
    I also see him getting a lot of minutes with Tucker and/or Dudley (depending on the opponents rotation and the Suns’ willingness to trade) to close down on perimeter shots.

  • julianne

    I’d like to see a shooting guard who can pass, and not just score. How many people criticize Brown for dribbling too much, and not passing the ball. The more he learns about passing the better as far as I”m concerned. I remember when Isaiah Thomas and Joe Dumars used to play for the Pistons, they could both pass and shoot.

  • Scott

    Coro’s article today says the Suns are going to talk to Johnson about rejoining the Suns. An odd move for a team with 15 already on the roster.

    And if it’s not Marshall who is the odd man out, is it Lee? He’s in the final year of his contract, with about $1m in salary.

  • Azbballfan

    I thought i heard paul corro say that Goodwin was going to fight for backup minutes with Marshall, starting in training camp

    given Marshalls weaknesses and the fact he was brought in by the previous GM, sounds to me like marshall and lee will be moved for some future asset thats why keeping brown and his expiring deal makes sense for this year

    Lee apparently has no offensive game and is all defense, and Marshall doesnt really do anything at all but pass

    That makes more sense to me

    Johnson resigning ?

    Theres gotta be some moves down the road

    We cant keep everyone from last year……….right?

  • Scott

    ^^ Well, it WAS a winning formula … ;)

  • azbballfan

    Looks like Thomas Robinson has been traded to Portland and they only have to send two 2nd round picks to Houston to get him

    I would love to send Gortat to Portland for Robinson, but what are the chances of that happening?

  • Sam

    Replaving an experienced 7’2″/265 Haddadi with inexperienced 7’1″/255 Len instead of getting the 16point McElmore was a TERRIBLE decision but then again we’re used to terrible decisions under walmart-system Sarver runs Suns.

  • Sam