Rookie Archie Goodwin settling in for first NBA season

Posted by on October 6th, 12:00 pm

PHOENIX — At 19 years and 19 days, Phoenix Suns guard Archie Goodwin enters the 2013-14 season as the youngest American-born player in the NBA.

But the 6-foot-5 rookie doesn’t want to talk about being a project pick — selected No. 29 in the 2013 NBA Draft — or starting his career on a team in full-on rebuild mode.

Instead, the former Kentucky standout (14.1 points, 4.6 assists, 2.7 rebounds per game in 2012-13) is concerned with one thing and one thing only: Beginning his life as a professional athlete.

At the Suns’ 2013-14 Media Day last week, Goodwin didn’t sound like a teenager overwhelmed by the moment. No, he sounded like an adult ready to get to work.

“I got moved in early,” Goodwin said about his summer. “I just moved in and really just tried to focus on getting into the gym and working out. I’ve been trying to gain weight but I know I’m young and that my metabolism is at a high right now. I’m really just trying to maintain, try not to lose so much.”

Aside from fine tuning his workout regime and dietary habits, there is work to be done on the court as well.

As he illustrated during Phoenix’s run to the final of the 2013 Las Vegas Summer League, Goodwin is an athletic freak in a combo guard’s body. He thrives in transition, fills the lanes well from either wing and can get to the basket regardless of contact.

But while Goodwin averaged 13.3 points and 3.3 rebounds in 24.6 minutes per game over the summer, the same concerns that plagued the Arkansas native heading into June’s draft still exist.

Here was the analysis of Goodwin’s offensive game back in May:

Goodwin clearly has the athleticism, the explosiveness and the wingspan (6-foot-10) to play at the next level, but his shot selection, mechanics and consistency from both the free throw line and three-point range are a bit troubling.

As a freshman, Goodwin had no problem getting off his shot — whether it came off his own dribble or off of a screen from another teammate. His issue was connecting on it. For the season, the former McDonald’s All-American shot 26.6 percent from distance and went 11 straight games during SEC play without connecting on a single three-point shot. He also shot an underwhelming 63.7 percent from the charity stripe.

From Goodwin’s film, it seems most of his shooting woes can be attributed to his lower body mechanics. While his shot and follow through seem to be relatively under control, he doesn’t always release with a balanced frame. One leg is usually bent forward during the release and at times neither foot is firmly square towards the basket. Because of those flaws in technique, Goodwin’s shot has a tendency to be rather flat.

According to Paul Coro of the Arizona Republic, the 198-pound guard has spent a majority of training camp at Flagstaff’s Rolle Activity Center working on his shot with head coach Jeff Hornacek. The goal is simple: Move Goodwin’s release point from the middle of his head to the right in order to get more arc and lift on the ball.

While Goodwin struggled with his shot (1-of-7 from the floor) in Saturday’s scrimmage, the Suns’ patient approach seems to be a better fit for the rookie than what he endured during his one year under John Calipari in Lexington.

“It’s a lot different,” Goodwin told Coro. “With Calipari, it’s so much more intense as far as his coaching style. Coach Hornacek is more laid-back. He’s easier to get along with than Coach Cal is on the court. It’s Coach Cal’s way. If he sees it his way, that’s it. There’s no talking to him about it. With Hornacek, if he sees something or you see something and you might have a different view on it, you could talk about it and I could discuss it.”

Odds are Goodwin and Hornacek will be discussing plenty during the 2013-14 campaign. The first-year Sun hit a wall during his freshman season at Kentucky and will likely go through a similar situation as February or March of 2014 rolls around.

Still, it would serve both he and the organization well, if his on-court development primarily takes place during games and not on a practice court.

While the days of him running the point might be few and far between — at least based on how Phoenix’ roster is currently constructed — whether it’s alongside Goran Dragic or Eric Bledsoe, the Suns would be wise to find a way to carve out 15-20 minutes of playing time for him every night.

Although it likely will be choppy and hard to watch at points, the only way to turn Goodwin’s flashes of greatness into something more is to run him through a trial by error.

Like most teenagers, making mistakes early on usually serve as the best lessons for later.

 

 

Dave Dulberg

Dave Dulberg is a ValleyoftheSuns staff writer who recently graduated from the University of Southern California. He also works as a web content writer/editor for Arizona Sports 620 KTAR.

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Tags: Archie Goodwin · Jeff Hornacek

7 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Scott // Oct 6, 2013 at 3:37 pm

    OKC had their pre-season opener … and I see Perkins is already injured. A dislocated finger on his left hand.

    Adams stepped up and finished the game with 7 points and 6 rebounds.

  • 2 Scott // Oct 6, 2013 at 5:33 pm

    Caron Butler looks very happy in his Bucks uni, BTW.

  • 3 SHWAGGERT // Oct 6, 2013 at 7:25 pm

    As long as Goodwin is developing for the future, things are going to be ok. This kid has a great head on his shoulders. The things he says to the media are very mature. Once his game matures. We are going to have a kd/westbrook combo in one. Maybe not for a while but eventually I see him being an all star

  • 4 Sillmarillion // Oct 7, 2013 at 12:23 am

    Goodwin went 1-7 in the Suns intrasquad scrimmage on Saturday, Len went 1-4… I know it’s only one game, a training game for that matter, but still. Other players did very well (as usual), even Marshall showed some fleshes.

  • 5 Scott // Oct 7, 2013 at 1:16 am

    I think it will take Goodwin 2 seasons before he’s really ready to go as a starter. Same with Len. They’re both young and need to develop strength.

    Additionally, for so many players the first year is spent trying to acclimate to the NBA’s greater strength, length, athleticism, and speed, waiting for the game to slow down.

    In the 2nd year, many experience a sophomore slump, but in the process round out their games.

    So … looking ahead … in this year and the next, I don’t expect Goodwin or Len to do anything to prevent the Suns from going deep into the lottery. They’ll play and improve, and the weight of the franchise will be borne by other players.

    After those two years, though, I think Goodwin and Len will start, and the Suns will have enough young talent acquired through trades and the draft that they should challenge for a playoff spot.

    So I’m forecasting a low-win season this year and next, with a resurgence afterwards.

  • 6 Foreveris2long // Oct 7, 2013 at 12:10 pm

    In my opinion Sill it is unjust to assess Len now as he has not played basketball for about 7 months. I am not going to critique any of his games until maybe late November after he gets his legs under him While both him and Goodwin will be wildly inconsistent this year, I strongly suspect we will see flashes of brilliance followed by a nightmarish performance in the following game. As soon as they think they have it figured out, they will have a big slice of NBA humble pie.

  • 7 DBreezy // Oct 7, 2013 at 1:24 pm

    @Scott,

    We’ll see if he’s ready, but if I had to guess, Goodwin will likely be the starter at the 2 next season not in 2 seasons. The Bledsoe/Dragic situation is likely to exist for only one season, if that meaning there will be an opening at the 2 next season. Brown will be gone. Tucker’s a great story, but he is miscast on this type of team. I suppose the Suns could end up in a situation where the best player on the board next June is Marcus Smart, but I thnk McD pulls off some sort of deal if that’s the case.

    We’re certainly in for some ups and downs for guys like Len and Goodwin, but they should ultimately receive plenty of mins if healthy and probably will be starters next season. I tend to doubt that this team will even be at the 7-10 record last years team had after the first month. While no one is selling the illusion of this being a playoff team, I think a poor record out of the gate will make it easier for Hornacek and crew to experiment with rotations and mins.

    Also for the young guys, especially the rooks, losing bunch for the first time in their lives isn’t fun but it does take some pressure off them as they get their feet wet. It’s not easy being a guy like Darko coming into a championship team. A top 5 pick with big expectations on a veteran team where every possession and mistake are huge, a coaching staff Withey zero tolerance, and constant media spotlight on your limited minutes.

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