How Brandon Goodwin Has Stayed Ready For His Moment
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Story by K.L. Chouinard (@KLChouinard)
In the first eight games of the season, the Hawks and their players have had some ups and downs on the way to a 4-4 record.
One player who has been in a consistent crescendo for that entire span is Brandon Goodwin. He spearheaded a second-half comeback attempt Wednesday that saw the Hawks erase a 24-point deficit before ultimately falling short against the Hornets. Goodwin finished with 9 points, 2 assists and 2 steals in 20 minutes.
"He's one of our spark plugs," John Collins said after the game. "I expect that from BG."
It isn't realistic for the former star from Norcross High School to top each successive performance in a 72-game NBA season, but Goodwin is doing the things that the team has asked of him.
Head Coach Lloyd Pierce said that Goodwin can help the offense by pushing the ball into the frontcourt on offense with pace. In a win over Brooklyn last week, Goodwin did just that and earned the Hawks' version of a game ball for his efforts. Goodwin provided the same sort of tempo boost against the Hornets for as long as he could.
"I give BG a lot of credit," Pierce said. "He played 16 straight minutes in the second half. And when he was taken out, it was because he had nothing left."
Kevin Huerter said that Goodwin broke down Charlotte's defense as the Hawks clawed their way back into the game the second half.
"We call it our 0.5 (second) decision making," Huerter said. "The ball was moving. A lot of guys were getting shots. Brandon was doing a great job of getting downhill and making the defense collapse and finding myself, finding D-Hunt and guys he's kicking out on to allow us to make plays."
Goodwin has used his driving skills to force defenses into rotation, and as a result, igniting the Hawks' offense. The numbers bear out the fact that Goodwin has improved his playmaking as a slash-and-kick guard. While his assists have seen a slight increase in 2020-21 – jumping from 4.3 to 4.8 assists per 36 minutes – his turnovers have gone down dramatically from 2.4 to 0.9 turnovers per 36 minutes this season.
Perhaps Goodwin's most notable accomplishment of the young season is that he stayed ready. The Hawks signed Rajon Rondo away from the defending NBA champs in a move that could have potentially limited Goodwin's role as a backup point guard. Goodwin instead looked at it as an opportunity to be Rondo's understudy in every sense of the word.
"I feel like I've got someone that is really mentoring me," he said. "I've got Rondo there and he's helping me a lot: off the court, on the court, film. I've never really watched film until this year. He has helped me see the game, not just from my eyes, but from (Bogdan)'s eyes, from Kevin('s eyes) – in the ways that I can help them get better while helping myself get better. I appreciate what he has done so far. He has helped me a lot."
Goodwin has also meshed with his backcourt partner off the bench, Bogdan Bogdanovic, the former Sacramento Kings guard who the Hawks signed in the offseason.
"Me and Bogi's relationship is kind of weird because we talk a lot of mess to each other to show our friendship," Goodwin said. "We play a lot of one on one, just talking as we're getting each other better. I'm telling him he can't score on me. He's telling me that I can't go left."
"Ultimately, it's just building chemistry and getting better. Bogi, he's a lot of fun to be around. On the court and off the court, he's a really good guy."
Goodwin's teammates have repeatedly said identical things about Brandon. Ask any Hawk about Goodwin, and it's a safe bet that the response will be accompanied by a smile and the same good-guy sentiment.
As Goodwin continues to direct the team from the bench, that quality is a good one to have.