With his 22nd birthday on the horizon, Archie Goodwin is somehow considered an NBA veteran at this point of his career. He will be entering his fourth season in the league, and will be set to be a restricted free agent by year's end, meaning that management may have their hand forced when it comes to his future in Phoenix come next summer. A crowded backcourt and assumed heady play from newcomer Tyler Ulis will not help matters for Goodwin, but nothing in the NBA is guaranteed (other than a Cavaliers - Warriors finals), and a twisted ankle or bum knee can twist fate in an instant.
Last year's season from hell provided fans and coaches alike an opportunity to see Goodwin showcase some of the talents that had been rocking the D-League sporadically over the last few seasons. In some instances, he flashed, and flashed big:
That kind of straight line explosion is, quite simply, a rarity. It is one thing to be a high-riser, but it is another thing to sequence a sprint into a jam in the blink of an eye, and Goodwin has that capability a la Russell Westbrook. Poor Al Horford didn't have enough time to process that Goodwin was torpedoing his way to the rim, and made a wise business decision to disengage himself from the poster.
Goodwin has no issues snaking his way to the rim - instead, the gripe has always been what the hell he does with the ball when he gets there. Last season, the Kentucky product shot a pedestrian 49 percent from within ten feet of the rim, per NBA.com - a figure that could pay dividends if improved over time. Getting to the rim at will is a talent, but what use is it if you are not converting those chances at a high clip or at the very least obtaining foul calls?
Though I would not consider his handle to be tight, Goodwin was still able to coast by opposing point guards because of his size and under appreciated strength. He has lengthier limbs than most team's point guards, leveraging his long arms to create avenues to either turn the corner and get to the baseline, or pierce the lane. Smart teams will sag off and lure Goodwin into taking a funky mid-range bunny, but he is difficult to contend with when he has a head of steam to him.
More times than not, watching Goodwin pass is an awkward endeavor. In my estimation, this is what will keep him holstered as a combo guards rather than becoming a mainstay at point guard - nothing about his passing chops scream "instinctual," and the offense lumbers into place when he is at the helm. The assist numbers leave a lot to be desired (3.8 per 36 minutes), and they come from a forced domain. Goodwin is best served slashing, but the next phase of his game is utilizing his slashing to create for others in addition to himself.
With that said, Goodwin is still entirely too young to dismiss a surge in passing potency, and I believe he should put all of his effort into becoming an educated passer as a point guard full-time.
Teams will be more intrigued by his skill set if he can run the offense as a main ball-handler, as his lack of shooting will not cause as many spacing nightmares with the ball in his hands. That's the problem with Goodwin as currently constructed: His best role is as the primary ball-handler running a pick-and-roll at the top of the key, but he doesn't finish well enough to scare a defense and is still churning out how to be two steps ahead when it comes to finding the open man. Unless he magically becomes a knockdown shooter over night and can spell some minutes at the two spot, it will be difficult for him to not be viewed as an awkward combo guard.
The summer hype surrounding the Suns has seemed to have passed Goodwin bye. Just as he was building up some momentum last season, Devin Booker emerged, Ulis shined, and the Brazilian Blur is knocking on the doorstep. Something has to give.
Watching Goodwin has grown to be as frustrating as it can be illuminating - it is undeniable that the dude has talent, it just remains to be seen if he will be able to funnel the necessary skill set to find his niche in the league. I am skeptic when it comes to his future in Phoenix beyond this season, but I will not be surprised when some team looks at what he does well and thinks to themselves, "Alright, we can work with that."
Goodwin has always had his age working on his side, but in time, it will become just another number. I am hopeful that he will find his way in the league, but with a logjam in the backcourt, I would not expect Phoenix to be his home for much longer.