Goodwin shows flashes of why coaching staff, management wanted him in Phoenix

Suns Guard Archie Goodwin takes it hard to the rim against the Grizzlies.
(Photo by Jack Arent/NBAE via Getty Images)

The Suns knew Archie Goodwin was good. They’d arrived at that conclusion quickly after seeing him in action during one of the many workouts leading up to the 2013 NBA Draft.

“When we had him at our draft workout, both (General Manager Ryan McDonough) and I were saying ‘that kid’s going to be pretty good,’” said Suns Head Coach Jeff Hornacek. “That’s why on draft night, Ryan was trying to get up even earlier (in the draft order), because he was afraid some other team might get him.”

In Tuesday’s 100-88 summer league win over Memphis, Goodwin made McDonough and Hornacek look like geniuses. The 29th overall pick shot, drove and dunked his way to a game-high 22 points, leaving behind a more-than-content crowd, a smug coaching staff and more than a few impressed media members.

Goodwin’s breakout effort came less than 24 hours after what could have been a disheartening outing against Minnesota. He ended the game with two points on 1-for-4 of shooting.

If nothing else, Tuesday night showed Goodwin can keep his confidence up while absorbing the constant teaching from the coaching staff and veterans on the team.

“Just the fact that he’s picking things up quickly,” Hornacek said of Goodwin before summer league started. “You tell him something one time and he does it the rest of the time. You don’t have to repeat it over and over to the guy. That’s great. As a coaching staff, all of us have commented on that with Archie.”

The lessons are paying off. On Tuesday, Goodwin scored the team’s first six points on a slashing layup, a 3-pointer from the corner and a free throw. He followed up with another 3-pointer, this time backing up behind the line when the defense refused to close him out, then making it pay.

Goodwin ended the quarter with 13 points.

The constant instruction is necessary to harness the talent Goodwin brings to the table. After his six-point outburst to start Tuesday’s game, he was called for an offensive foul on a 2-on-1 fastbreak. In what has become a regular scene at summer league, Goodwin received some quick feedback from his teammates before the next play began.

“They’re telling me things that help me throughout the game, just things to look for when I’m penetrating, because sometimes I might miss them,” Goodwin said. “They’re telling me to keep my head up and just keep being aggressive.”

He did that and then some, capping off three fast breaks with decisive slam dunks, including a one-handed throw-down through a defender’s arm. He added another 3-pointer from the corner toward the end of the game, finishing the night a perfect 3-of-3 from long distance.

For Hornacek, such performances are signs of what could become commonplace sooner than later.

“He’s got that athletic ability. He’s going to learn the game better and better,” Hornacek said. “He’s only 18 years old…You can see him growing every day in practice. He listens, he tries to do what the coaches are asking. If he continues to do that he’s going to be a great player in this league.”

"He’s driven to be one of the best,” Hornacek added.