True sports fans have their favorites. They have their favorite team, that’s another story, but on that team is a player that endears himself to the fan base in a different, deeper way. Usually, they aren’t the most talented, biggest, tallest or fastest player on the team, but that is why we love them. They are the underdog. They have that hustle factor, which is what we want from everyone on the court, but expect from the non-superstars who don’t have innate talent to fall back on.
True Suns fans remember some fan favorites from the last decade. Bo Outlaw, Leandro Barbosa, Lou Amundson are examples in recent Suns history, as well as the freshly jettisoned Jared Dudley and P.J. Tucker, who is becoming a fan favorite due to his gritty defense. From seeing his play in the summer league, I believe Archie Goodwin will be the next one.
But that isn’t all. I surmise he will be a better player than all of the fan favorites that have preceded him. Goodwin could be an All-Star. I think he is one of the better steals of the draft. By the time he turns 20, which is next August (after we have that very high 2014 draft pick franchise cornerstone, meaning the rebuilding process is “over” and we need to add pieces and get into the playoffs) Goodwin will be much improved.
He obviously has the raw athleticism and talent. He has the shot. Another attribute that has manifested during summer league play has been his ability to draw contact in the lane whenever he wants. He does this often without being reckless in the paint like Dwyane Wade and Derrick Rose tend to do, getting them injured. Additionally, he protects the ball while in the paint, making it nearly impossible to have the ball stripped from him as he goes up. He pushes the ball up the court, putting pressure on the defense to react, which most of the time will result in an easy lay-in at the basket or too much helping in the paint, allowing Goodwin to kick the ball out for an in-rhythm three in transition.
None of the fan favorites on the list have been more than role players on downright bad to decent teams. I think by 2015, Goodwin could be an integral piece to playoff team capable of making the Western Conference Finals, with the possibility the following year of contending for a championship. Goodwin would be the sixth man on a championship team in the realm of Manu Ginobili (without the flopping and whining).
Think about this possible lineup and depth chart. This is all projecting, including the draft pick, while throwing in a top-notch free agent signing for good measure. Think about how good these players will be in two years.
- PG: Goran Dragic, Kendall Marshall
- SG: Eric Bledsoe, Archie Goodwin
- SF: [LeBron James (ya right!) OR Luol Deng OR Danny Granger OR Jimmy Butler], Marcus Morris
- PF: Andrew Wiggins, Markieff Morris
- C: Alex Len, Channing Frye
Add in another 2014 hopefully first round, but probably second round pick and that is a REALLY good team in a couple years. Also, Channing Frye would be the oldest player and the only one over 30, so its young and athletic and will be around for a while.
While I predict Goodwin will be beloved in the desert in the coming years, he will be a better player than past fan favorites and a key piece in the puzzle of a championship caliber team in a few seasons.
Phoenix will be a team to be feared… eventually.