Archie Goodwin: Potential In The Present

Nov 21, 2014; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Phoenix Suns guard Archie Goodwin (20) takes a shot during the fourth quarter of the game against the Philadelphia 76ers at the Wells Fargo Center. The Phoenix Suns won the game 122-96. Mandatory Credit: John Geliebter-USA TODAY Sports
Nov 21, 2014; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Phoenix Suns guard Archie Goodwin (20) takes a shot during the fourth quarter of the game against the Philadelphia 76ers at the Wells Fargo Center. The Phoenix Suns won the game 122-96. Mandatory Credit: John Geliebter-USA TODAY Sports /

A McDonalds High School All-American. The 2011 and 2012 Arkansas Gatorade Player of the Year. The 2011 and 2012 Mr. Basketball of Arkansas. Member of the 2012 Parade Magazine All-American team and 2012 USA Junior Select Team. Named to 2013 All-SEC Freshman team while leading the Kentucky Wildcats in scoring at 14.1 points per game.

With an NBA-worthy resume at the age of 18, the talented youth seemed set to make an impact on the NBA level.

“With the 29th pick in the 2013 NBA Draft the Phoenix Suns select Archie Goodwin….”

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It’s Jan. 4, 2015. Phoenix is playing perhaps their most complete game of the season en route to a 125-109 blowout victory against the Toronto Raptors. The victory is their second straight and comes as a statement game against an Eastern Conference power.

However, it was a single play, not the game, that would be talked about afterward. With the Suns leading 116-101 and just over three minutes left in the game, a host of bench players and rookies check in. Toronto’s starting center, Jonas Valanciunas, stays in the game.

Bad mistake.

Flying down the right side of the court, Goodwin shows impressive speed and an uncanny ability to move with his lanky frame. Tyler Ennis lobs a pass to the streaking guard, who catches the ball several feet before the three-point line. Without breaking his stride, Goodwin takes one dribble and makes his move to the basket where Valanciunas now stands as the last line of defense.

Everyone in the arena knows his mind is made up now. Goodwin takes two long steps toward the basket and elevates.

Potential. It’s a word exhausted by announcers, fans, coaches, and management when watching Goodwin play. The 6’5″ guard/forward, who is still growing into his body, has shown an ability to get to the basket at will while being able to guard three different positions with a 6’10″ wingspan.

Whether it is recording a SportCenter Top 10 dunk — along with 12 points in nine minutes of play — against Toronto, or filling the stat sheet with 29 points in last year’s season finale, there is a valid argument Goodwin could be an everyday player on several teams in the NBA. Patience is a virtue, but the waiting process for a player who feels like he can contribute in the present moment can grow old.

As a rookie, Goodwin played in 52 games, averaging 3.7 points in 10.3 minutes per game. Moving forward, the general consensus was that he would move into a slightly bigger role this season, at least cracking the regular rotation. Following a Phoenix offseason that included the acquisitions of three more guards, playing time was no longer a given.

As it stands to this point in the season, Goodwin has played a combined 96 minutes, while only appearing in 12 of the Suns’ 50 games. Even with the heavily reduced playing time his scoring numbers remain nearly identical to last season, averaging 3.6 points this season.

“It is different [on this year compared to last year],” Goodwin said. “I understand what’s at risk for us, I’m just trying to play my part, get better and wait for my chance.”

Of course, anytime a team has Gerald Green, Isaiah Thomas, Eric Bledsoe and Goran Dragic in the backcourt, playing time will be hard to come by.

“We have a lot of great guards, I’m still young so I have to wait for my chance and be ready when it comes,” Goodwin said.

However, while the guard logjam is a large reason Goodwin is not playing, it’s not the only reason.

The 20-year-old is still trying to develop a consistent jumpshot. As a player known for his ability to drive the basketball, it’s imperative to keep the defense honest by being able to knock down 15-20 footers. On the other side of the ball, Goodwin has shown flashes of potential as a defender utilizing incredible athleticism, but defensive lapses have occurred watching the ball and not his man.

His flaws are not unlike most rookies and second-year players, proving very correctable with practice and in-game opportunities. Goodwin’s strong work ethic will take care of improvement through practice, while the Suns are working on giving him playing time — even if it’s not at the NBA level.

Trips to Bakersfield, California have not been uncommon for Goodwin this season, playing for the Suns D-League team, the Bakersfield Jam. Goodwin’s performance for the Jam has only made it harder for the Suns to keep him on the bench. In eight games in the D-League this season, Goodwin has averaged 21.1 points, 6.3 rebounds and 1.5 steals per contest.

Playing in the D-League showcase championship two weeks ago, Goodwin was named tournament MVP after averaging 23.3 points, 5.7 rebounds, 1.3 assists and 1.3 steals in three games. This past weekend, Goodwin was down in Bakersfield again, collecting 52 points and 22 rebounds in two games while shooting 48.6 percent from the floor. Despite his dominance on the Jam, Goodwin simply sees his time in the D-League as a tune-up for potential NBA action.

“It’s just a chance to stay in rhythm, my confidence hasn’t gone anywhere, still hasn’t,” he said. “Just a chance to be able to play because it’s a tough situation (in Phoenix) right now.”

With the Suns in the thick of the Western Conference playoff race, chances are Goodwin’s only game action will come in Bakersfield, not Phoenix. With each game more crucial than the last, the guard understands the situation but acknowledges it’s difficult not being able to contribute.

“It’s tough, I just need to trust in the coaching staff and what they are doing,” Goodwin said. “Hopefully everything works out for the best.”

For perspective, Goodwin is only in his second year in the league and remains lightyears away from reaching his prime, an extremely exciting prospect for the Suns and their fans. He is not even old enough to legally drink a beer, but despite his youth, Goodwin doesn’t lack confidence.

“I am here for the same reason everyone else is here, to play the game I love to play,” he said. “I’m younger but once I step on the floor it’s not about age it’s about what you do.”

For Goodwin’s sake, he hopes to show what he can do sooner rather than later.

Next: Phoenix Suns: Top 5 Potential Trade Targets

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