NBA Summer League: Goodwin shines, Suns advance to semifinal

Archie Goodwin and the Suns came out firing on all cylinders in the first quarter and never looked back as Phoenix advanced to the semifinals of the Las Vegas Summer League with a 103-98 victory over the Toronto Raptors. Goodwin dropped 20 points and was perfect from the field (5-of-5). The Morris twins were also red hot, combining for 39 points (both Markieff and Marcus were an identical 8-of-11 from the field.) The Suns as a team shot 53% and hit eight of their 16 three point attempts, outscoring the Raptors by 18 points from downtown.

For anyone who hasn’t seen Archie Goodwin play for the Suns yet, here’s a hot tip: the kid is good. Summer League or not, Goodwin looks the part of an NBA player. He is smooth as silk when the ball is in his hands and very active when its not. His can jump and finish at the rim, and his jump shot is impeccable. He was the spark that allowed the Suns to catch fire and run out to a 28-15 first quarter lead.

There were two things about Goodwin’s immensely impressive performance that stood out above the rest. First, he had double-digit free throw attempts for the third time in five games. I can’t remember the last time I saw a rookie who was this comfortable absorbing contact on his way to the rim. Second, his sequence of plays to close the first quarter was probably the most impressive thing a Suns’ player has done since Goran Dragic hit that game winner against Memphis last season. First, Goodwin buried a spot up three to put the Suns up 10. Then he blocked a shot on the other end. Then he hit another three, this one off the dribble. And finally, he drew an offensive foul before the Raptors could get off a final shot. When he was on the floor, Goodwin did everything for the Suns on both ends of the floor. Expectations and success always have to be tempered in Summer League, but Goodwin’s string of great performances isn’t making that easy. Thus far, he is the steal of the draft.

The Morris twins each had their best game of the tournament against Toronto. With the Raptors’ best player, Jonas Valanciunas, sitting out with an injured finger, Markieff and Marcus both dominated in the paint. Kieff’s entire array of offense was on display, with the exception of his outside shooting, which he left to brother Marcus. Marcus’ jumper was falling as he went 3-of-4 from downtown, including another buzzer-beater to end the first half. Markieff excelled offensively both with his back to the basket and facing up. He battled the entire game with Toronto’s Quincy Acy who was a Big 12 opponent of the Morris’ twins when they were at Kansas and he was at Baylor. The brothers’ great chemistry was on full display as they connected on a several great passes which turned into easy baskets.

The Suns acquired Marcus because they believed he would bring out the best in Markieff and vice versa. There were some flashes of that last season, but mostly the twins disappointed just like the rest of the roster. But in this game, it was clear that both guys really responded to having each other on the court, and they both were better for it. The next step for them will be to bring this confidence and chemistry with them to training camp.

Off the bench, Dionte Christmas was a lightning rod. He went 6-of-11 from the field and 2-of-6 from downtown. Impressively, he hit two And-1 jumpers in the second quarter. He certainly has the skills and desire to be a floor-spacer/off-the-bench scorer in the mold of a poor man’s Jamal Crawford or young Jason Terry. He has put these skills on great display in Las Vegas for the second year in a row, yet it’s nowhere near a sure thing that he’ll make an NBA roster. I don’t know enough about Christmas to speculate as to what might keep a player with his talent out of the NBA. All I know is that he’s certainly a player who could help Phoenix, and he’s somebody to keep an eye on.

It wasn’t all golden for the Suns however. Kendall Marshall had five turnovers, including two in transition. The fast break is an area of Marshall’s game that Coach Jeff Hornacek has criticized, and Kendall certainly did nothing in this game to help his case. He finished with only two assists in nearly 25 minutes, while backup Diante Garrett dished out three dimes in only 14 minutes of play (zero turnovers.) When the Raptors were furiously storming back in the closing minutes of the game, they trapped Marshall in the backcourt every time he had the ball which forced him into turnovers and disrupted the Suns offensively.

This game was an offensive clinic and well-deserved win for Phoenix. The Summer League title is now just two wins away. Though the trophy is ostensibly meaningless, winning it could imbue the Suns’ young guys with some much needed confidence heading into training camp and a rebuilding year. The #3 seeded Suns will take on the #18 seeded Miami Heat tomorrow with the winner heading to the Summer League final on Monday.

And 1

  1. The Suns weren’t great defensively. They allowed the Raptors to shoot nearly 50% from the field. The Morris twins both failed time after time to close out on Quincy Acy, allowing him to shoot wide open jumpers and score 28 points. Phoenix also had no one who could stay in front of Toronto guard Dwight Buycks who had 28 points of his own. Buycks (pronounced like “bikes”) was recently signed for the season to back up Kyle Lowry. He is definitely worth a look in deep fantasy leagues given his ability to get to the hoop and Lowry’s injury history.
  2. Up 10 points with less than a minute to play, Coach Hornacek brought in Abercrombie and Cohen, both of whom hadn’t yet played. The Raptors quickly cut the lead to three before the Suns recovered and sealed the game with free throws. A very strange decision by the new coach which almost ended the Suns’ time in Vegas.
  3. Reason #267 to love P.J. Tucker: while he hit just one shot from the field, he got to the line 10 times, grabbed seven rebounds, and was far more aggressive and effective leading the break than Kendall Marshall.
  4. The v-neck, sleeved jerseys the Suns are wearing look far more appropriate for clubbing on the Jersey Shore than playing hoops. I know the NBA needs to drive merchandising revenue, but I personally don’t feel like sleeved jerseys are the answer.

Tags: Archie Goodwin Phoenix Suns Phoenix Suns Recap Summer League

  • Manny

    Wow, Goddwin’s shot was “impeccable”? I haven’t seen any Suns summer games yet (have them all backlogged on my DVR). Has his shot improved that much since the end of the Kentucky season?

  • Azbballfan

    the Morris twins played great, tucker played great, goodwin was excellent

    another ho hum game for marshall

    Goodwin looks good enough to be the 1st guard off the bench for us this year

    marshall just doesnt look like an nba player right now, maybe he can turn it around in training camp?

    goodwin and the morris twins gotta be feeling alot of confidence right now, several really good games in a row

    nice to see

    The Suns got lucky btw, that jonas Valencunas didnt play

    he had been doing some real good things for them in summer league

  • Thunder Dan

    The Suns will beat the Heat in this years summer league semi finals 1-0

  • MsL

    Congrats Suns, and way to go Archie, back home fan keeping an eye on you.

  • Jeremiah


    Unlike his FT stroke his jump shot looks really smooth and has indeed been “impeccable” in SL thus far. It is starting to seem as though the reports about him have a “broken” shot may have been at least a little off.

  • a-game


    Archie’s shot was maybe a tad bit off based on initial reports, but i can guarantee you hornacek has ALOT to do with Archie finding his shot. And yes he’s definitely smooth out there, kinda like a “lite” version of kevin durant. Ive watched all five games thus far and lemme tell you, Archie can ball!!! He is going to be great! Y’all can quote me on that.

    Theres plenty to like about this kid suns fans! Time to get excited again.


    @ thunder dan bwahahahahahaa love it :)

  • Scott

    The Suns would be crushing the opposition if Len was available. Imagine adding an agile 7′ 2″ guy in there.

    As for Hornacek’s rotations … I think he’s defying normal coaching logic to give his less heralded players the opportunity to do their thing. He’s showing he has confidence in them.

    Cohen and Abercrombie are not two guys you’d normally have close out a game, except in garbage time, but once he put them in Hornacek stuck with them. That’s got to make them feel respected, even if their talent level isn’t tops.

    Hornacek has done a similar thing before in SL, keeping his 2nd unit players in the game past the point where another coach would have pulled them. I think it’s purposeful.

    BTW, there’s no telling how the Suns’ roster will change in the next few months, but it’s possible we could see a 2nd unit lineup of Len, Markieff, Marcus, Goodwin, and Marshall. So it could be a lot like what we’re seeing now.

  • Thunder Dan

    This Goodwin kid looks great for a scrawny 18 year old, he was great scoring yesterday..and had some good defensive plays..a steal and chase down block. I think it’s kinda funny, he almost has the visage of a younger MJ and the build (6,5″ 198). Just an observation, not even trying to make any comparison beyond looks, haha.

  • hawki

    Agree with Thunder Dan…..when I 1st saw Goodwin at Kentucky he reminded me of a young MJ…physically & his on court demeanor…..

    His jump shot looks 100% better than last time I saw him play at Kentucky….hard to believe he’s only 18.

  • Elviro (Italy)

    hello guys,
    I am following the matches of the Summer League only through the highlights but I must say from what little I saw that Morris are in great shape and Good-win is really promising (maybe become our “God-win” with a little bit of time! I hope so …)!

    Too bad for Len, I was really very curious to see it working … not sure if these are prerequisites for this team … with Len we could aim for the title of Summer League which is good for confidence in the future ..

    This year, however, I warn you guys … in addition to my beloved Suns … and performance of Gallinari, Belinelli and Bargnani … I’ll be very attentive to the performance of the new Italian landed in the NBA … Gigi Datome (of which I have spoken so much in some of my past comments to the posts of this blog …) that this year will play with the Pistons … and’ll be cheering for him since it’s my favorite Italian player!

    ps: it is true t-shirts summer league are really horrible!

  • http://none Sillmarillion

    Why do we all get excited about the Morris twins? Marcus had 6 fouls in 18 minutes. He would have been subbed out in any NBA game after 5 minutes. Any veteran in the NBA would abuse this weakness of him (Markieff has the same problem by the way) and as we know this already happened very often in the past.
    The only positive thing about summer league is Goodwin.
    If you are a 7th year pro (Tucker) and have to play SL it means that you suck, let’s face it. I love his effort, but he wouldn’t play on any other team than the Suns.

  • frenchysunsfan

    Marcus Morris played well offensively but he’s too weak defensively and at rebounding to be a real long term starter. However I think he will be a good back-up for Butler.
    The main problem with both twin is that they are inconstant even against SL players.

    Marshall is disappointing, hope he’ll improve a lot during the training camp.
    Goodwin is really good, can’t wait to see him playing against veteran.

  • Scott

    So far the twins are shooting better, aren’t they? 8 of 11 now. I hope they keep it up.

    The Morris twins are better than other SL players, mainly due to having 2 NBA years behind them. IMO, they’re probably now about where scouts thought they would be when they were drafted.

    I think the main thing to appreciate in SL is how maybe the twins might be gaining admirers from some other NBA teams to which they might be traded.

    Like maybe Charlotte’s GM would decide he’d like two tough Philly guys instead of that notoriously weak country-music-liking guy from Indiana he just drafted …?

    C’mon, Charlotte! Do the trade! :)

  • Thunder Dan

    I think the Morris twins are pretty solid…theyre rebounding needs a bit of work, esp. for 6 ’10″ guys…and they are too soft defensively inside. They both seem to light it up offensively but where is this when the regular season starts? Kieff played great last summer too but shot really poorly in the regular season

  • Scott

    @Thunder Dan -

    I don’t think I’m as hard on the Morris twins as some, but I really expected Markieff to work on his shooting last summer and come into the season shooting better than he did. However, he did start shooting a lot better in the final month of play last season, so maybe he’s not far off from bringing both scoring and efficiency into this coming season.

    Marcus – as I wrote on this forum a few days ago – shot very well from 3 for Houston last season before coming to Phoenix. He was averaging about 40% from 3 for 3 months, and he was shooting a fair number of them, scoring into the 20s on occasion. Unfortunately, this shooting touch somehow disappeared once he came to Phoenix, and in his last few games he was shooting about 20% from 3, so he didn’t get much play time.

    The Morris brothers have to realize they’re running out of time. They need to get serious and do everything they can to improve and stay in the league. Regardless of how the Suns fare in the rest of this SL tournament, the Brothers Morris need to keep working on their shot this summer, so when they get the ball in the regular season they can reliably score. Once they have shots they can reliably hit, they’ll have a place in the offense, which is something they’ve lacked so far.

  • Jeremiah

    @Thunder Dan

    Keiff put up great numbers last SL, but he didn’t shoot well at all. His FG% is like 20% better in this year’s SL. Hopefully this new found efficiency carries over to the regular season.

  • Scott

    @Jeremiah -

    And it’s not just accuracy, it’s more that Markieff has developed a few moves where he can get his shot.

    It’s maybe a bit hard to tell from the few examples in SL play, but it seems to me like he’s now got a good short jumper and a leaning hook from under the basket. His 3 pt shooting also seems more accurate, though I’m not sure if he has a favorite spot (it used to be the top of the arc).

    Players in the NBA need to have a few reliable moves they can make to get points. There’s not a lot of room for players who can’t do that.

  • foreveris2long

    The biggest problem with Markieff is he cannot effectively defend the low post. While it remains a mystery if he can be effective offensively in the low post during the regular season, defense is a major concern. His offense seems better but he was decent last summer offensively.

    As for Goodwin, mission seems accomplished in getting him to see the big picture offensively as opposed to having tunnel vision when he gets the ball. Supposedly having him play point guard was going to help him in that regard. While he certainly needs a lot of work playing the point, I hope they continue working with him there because his game is quickly evolving. I like him a lot. Great draft choice.

  • Evan

    The Suns have few quality players and a bunch of players that may turn out well one day.

    Athletic Combo PG/SGs: Dragic, Bledsoe, Goodwin (probably the most promising part of the team)

    Pure PG: Marshal (probably not going to crack the rotation, the fact is he is just not skilled enough to be an NBA PG)

    Pure SG: Shannon Brown (will have to fight for mins, has flashes of amazing ability but does not have consistency required)

    Pure SF’s: Tucker, Butler (Decent roll players nothing more)

    Not quite a SF or a PF: Marcus, Markeif, Beasley (lets be honest none of these players are any good at the NBA level, and are a liability every time they step out on the floor)

    Pure PF: Scola (solid player but not athletic at all)

    Pure C: Gortat and Len (Solid and skilled bigs that are hard to find)

    ***I dont see anyone else making the team***

  • Scott

    @Evan -

    You forgot Frye.

  • Evan

    @Scott, until I hear otherwise I assume Frye is never going to play again because of his heart condition.

  • foreveris2long

    Evan that is probably a pretty accurate assessment. The biggest indictment showing that the Morris twins do not play effective defense is one fouled out yesterday and another fouled out today. If they cannot guard summer league stiffs, they cannot be regular NBA starters.

  • Chad

    I wouldn’t go as far to say that they are a liability on the court. I feel as if the Morris brothers might just be decent guys to have come off the bench, problem is- we have two of them! Not sure if you want two of them off the bench but we will see. Crunch year for them.

  • http://Valleyofthesuns Dennis

    I was in Vegas ans saw a few games. I told a sportswriter on the way out Archie looks the the mini-Durant. I also like his openness to learning from older players which he has spoken about. Refreshing.