If there is one Phoenix Suns player who you likely have not heard a lot about this offseason, it is point guard Jordan Goodwin. An afterthought in the deal with the Washington Wizards that netted the franchise Bradley Beal, the 24-year-old will have his work cut out to get playing time.
Not as much as these three players, but when you’re teammates with Devin Booker, Kevin Durant, Deandre Ayton and Beal, not a lot is going to be said about you. Even role players signed on minimum deals like Eric Gordon and Yuta Watanabe will be expected to produce more.
With minimum expectations however, and as the media continue to overlook Goodwin, he is going to surprise some people this coming season.
Lost in the shuffle that was the awful Wizards season of 2022-23, but Goodwin actually started seven of 62 games played. His 6.6 points and 2.7 assists were nothing to write home about, while shooting just over 32 percent from deep didn’t strike fear into opponents either.
But if you look beyond these numbers, there’s actually a player here who the Suns will really be able to lean on during the regular season. With Cam Payne no longer on the roster – and no longer anywhere right now after being waived by the San Antonio Spurs – there is a lack of depth at the point guard position for this team.
We are going to get plenty of “Point-Booker”, while Beal will handle the ball some as well. But when both of these players are sitting, which may not happen too often, the Suns are going to need a traditional floor general out there. Not even to bring the ball up or take it out of a player like Durant’s hands, but to settle things if a play breaks down or the offense gets stuck.
The importance of Goodwin will likely be felt with the second unit, and for good reason. He is likely to share the court with players like Keita Bates-Diop, Chimezie Metu and even Bol Bol. Three players who aren’t exactly known for creating multiple offensive possessions at a time, although the unique style of Bol can be used for a possession or two here and there.
The Suns will always have one of Booker, Beal and Durant on the court, but there’s a case to be made that Goodwin should spend time playing with all three. As much as Booker is comfortable setting the table, his 33.7 points per game during the playoffs last year are a timely reminder that he is a scorer first.
Similarly Beal likes to have plays designed for him, and not created by himself all of the time. Doing that while with the Wizards was out of necessity more than anything else, and having played with Goodwin before should stand to the guard when trying to earn minutes next to his All-Star level teammates.
Even Durant and more likely Ayton could do with having Goodwin out there with them. He is a more stout player than Paul, and does some of his best work by driving into the paint to create problems for opponents. Look at his first two buckets in a 22 point performance against the Houston Rockets last season. Everybody benefits from that level of penetration.
On the defensive end there could be more good news, and head coach Frank Vogel may yet unlock a higher level of ability from Goodwin on this end as well. Last season, the Wizards had a defensive rating of 111.7 when he was on the court. On the season as a whole, they finished 21st in this category, at 114.9.
The Suns ranked a much healthier seventh, but even their final number (112.3) wasn’t as good as Goodwin mustered. He only played 17.8 minutes per game, and he was far from a defensive lynchpin for his previous employers. But it does show us that perhaps there could be something there to tap into.
The Suns are going to need all of their role players to have among the best defensive seasons of their careers. That’s why most of them were brought to The Valley, and it will extend their championship window if this happens.. Goodwin is no exception, and there’s reason to believe he can be a modest hit on this end.
Holding his own against far better opponents and high level scorers, while also steadying the ship on the offensive end. There’s no doubt he can and will increase his assists per game total. In truth his scoring might remain the same, or possibly even drop some, but the Suns won’t care about that.
Jordan Goodwin has been brought in to run the second unit, and it looks like a job he is going to excel in. Just don’t be surprised when this surprisingly quick and built guard exceeds your expectations.