After a long and rocky freshman season at the University of Kentucky, Archie Goodwin declared for the 2013 NBA Draft. Goodwin was the second-youngest player to declare for the draft, and the youngest overall American college player. He was chosen by the Oklahoma City Thunder, 29th overall only to be traded to the Golden State Warriors, and then the Phoenix Suns, all before the draft was over.
Many criticized Goodwin for leaving college after failing to find consistency in anything other than his ability to drive aimlessly to the basket and throw up a bad shot, or force a pass that turned into an easy turnover for the opposition.
But there were many glimpses of potential greatness from Goodwin, who is as athletic as any guard prospect in this draft and at age 18, has as much room to grow as anyone.
Ask Suns GM Ryan McDonough what he thinks about Goodwin, and he’ll tell you he loves the former Wildcat, and that he would have been a top-10 pick in 2014 had he stayed in school for his sophomore season:
He was a guy we had targeted the whole time. He’s a guy we feel has special potential and we didn’t want to take a risk somebody ahead of us would take him.
Right after we got him, my phone started blowing up [with] a lot of calls and texts saying, ‘That was our guy, We were trying to get a pick, we were right behind you’.
Another reason Goodwin is his burning to desire to improve every aspect of his game, and will work tirelessly to do so:
I have a lot of room to grow. I’m only 18. I can get a lot stronger. I can get a lot more consistent in shooting, getting my dribbling better, and getting a high IQ for the game. There’s a lot of things I need to work on, and I’m going to get started as soon as possible.
The very night he was drafted, he was busy working in the gym to prepare himself for what will be a challenging and growing experience in his rookie year.
ESPN even did an in-depth article on why Goodwin will be one of the sleepers of this draft class, noting how he compares to former NBA Rookie of the Year guard Tyreke Evans, and All-Star point guard Russell Westbrook:
There are a lot of similarities between Goodwin and Evans. Comparing their freshman numbers, Goodwin was the more efficient scorer on isolation and pick-and-roll plays and overall against man defense.
The biggest knock on Goodwin is his jumper. But Goodwin was a better jump shooter than Evans was as a freshman. Goodwin shot 33 percent on jump shots, while Evans shot 28 percent at Memphis.
Goodwin was also more effective than Evans as an on-ball defender, allowing fewer points per play. Goodwin held his opponents to 31 percent shooting, compared to 38 percent for Evans.
Goodwin was especially strong defending jump shots — his opponents shot 26 percent on jump shots, including 22 percent on catch-and-shoot jumpers.
In his lone season at Kentucky, Goodwin led the team in scoring with 14.1 ppg, but he shot just 26.6% from the 3-point line. He ranked second on the team in assists (87) and steals (35).