The Phoenix Suns entered the 2013 NBA draft armed with two first round picks: their own #5 overall pick and the #30 pick, obtained from the 2012 trade with the Los Angeles Lakers. With their own pick, the Suns selected Alex Len out of Maryland. With the latter (which they used to trade up one spot to the #29 pick), the team drafted one of the youngest prospects in college basketball - Kentucky's Archie Goodwin.
The talented guard had a stellar Summer League, averaging 13.1 points and 3.3 rebounds per game on 0.500 FG% and 0.571 3PT% while getting to the line nearly 7 times a game in just 24.6 minutes. As the youngest player in the 2013 NBA Summer League, Archie showed flashes of the tremendous skill that made him one of the nation's highest recruits in 2012, making several highlight plays along the way:
After drafting him in the first round, Suns GM Ryan McDonough and Coach Jeff Hornacek revealed their belief that Archie was severely undervalued coming into the draft. They were enamored not just with his raw talent and natural aggressiveness, but his hard-working nature, professionalism and maturity.
Recently, I was able to catch up with Archie Goodwin before he begins his first career NBA training camp next week and I too found myself impressed by his professionalism and the confidence he exudes. In Part 1 of this two-part feature, Archie goes over what he's been working on this summer and discusses his future goals in an exclusive Bright Side of the Sun interview:
Q: What have you been working on this summer?
A: I've been working on a variety of things. Just getting my body stronger and more flexible. I've been working a lot with our training staff on those types of things because those things have really helped me this far and they're helping me get more athletic and getting me faster and stronger. I'm definitely working with them every day and shooting and dribbling. Just getting my overall skillset better than it is because this is another level and I have to continue to get better. I'm just doing everything to try and hone my skills and just come in every day with the attitude of trying to be the best I can be.
Q: You've had a good bit of experience working out with Kendall Marshall this summer. What can you say about Kendall and his strengths as a player?
A: Now that he's had a year under his belt and he's been working extremely hard this offseason, I feel that he's gotten a lot better from last year. He's shooting the ball a lot better than he was. I can see his confidence from working out with him and playing pick-up, he's a lot more confident in his jump shot and he's been knocking it down. He works hard every day just like I do and he's in there (in the gym) twice a day just like I am so I tip my hat to him.
Q: Who else has been at the workouts recently? Have you guys been playing 5-on-5 pick-up games as a team?
A: Yeah, we've been playing pick-up games. The whole team is here now except for the overseas guys because they're in their Euro-thingy. Other than them, everybody else has been coming in every day.
Q: What surprised you most about any particular teammate?
A: I was definitely surprised by how fast and athletic Eric Bledsoe was. It's one thing to see it on TV but it's another thing to see it actually going on. I feel like he's going to have a really good year just because he's going to be able to play outside of a system where he wasn't able to be a starting point guard. Now that he has the option to be that, I think he's going to be really good.
Q: I'm glad you brought up Eric Bledsoe. A lot of fans are definitely looking forward to seeing the new-look back-court in action. With you, Goran and Eric, that's a lot of speed and firepower in the back-court, isn't it?
A: Yeah, it's going to be exciting - a lot of fast guys, athletic guys and young guys too.
Q: Speaking of youth, you're one of the youngest players in the entire NBA. Where do you think you're going to be in the league in 5 years when you're 24?
A: I feel like after 5 years, I'll be one of the best players in the league just because I'm coming in at such a young age and I'll be able to learn. Most guys come into the league in their 20s and they might be 25, 26, or 27, and I won't be as old as them. I'll be able to learn more at a young age.
Q: Have you gotten a chance to talk much with your fellow rookie Alex Len or to work out with him? What can you say about him?
A: I talked to him every day when we see each other at the gym. He's a really good guy. He's just 20 so he's young too and he's very good. We played against him last year at Kentucky and he had a really good game against us. He's really good and he has a lot of skills.
Q: Your Kentucky team had a tough year for a lot of different reasons and you in particular faced a lot of pressure because of those various factors. Can you talk about how you might have been overlooked in the NBA draft and how that motivates you now?
A: I would just say that I wasn't really too concerned with what other teams were doing. I was just really hoping that I was going to be able to play here in Phoenix because this is the city that I wanted to come to. I felt that this would be a really good opportunity for me as opposed to any other team so when they picked me, I was really just relieved. Those other teams, they have to deal with me now. I'm their problem, they're not my problem.
Stay tuned for Part 2 of my interview with Archie later this week, where you'll learn what his favorite movie is, who his favorite players growing up were (hint: Suns fans might not like this answer) and how he's so good at making Vine videos.