A 19-year-old, playing a man’s game – that’s the reality for rookie guard Archie Goodwin as he enters his first season as a professional basketball player.
He was selected 29th overall by the Phoenix Suns, in the first round of the 2013 NBA draft. The organization even traded up a spot to select him.
Playing his mandatory year in college at Kentucky, Goodwin was asked to play out of position, limiting his effectiveness and causing his draft stock to fall. Also, the Wildcats failed to make the NCAA tournament, mostly due to Nerlens Noel’s season-ending injury. They settled for the National Invitation Tournament and were beaten by a smaller Robert Morris team. Those factors caused Goodwin to be drafted later than he wanted to be.
“I definitely feel like I slid, just because of the way our season went. We didn’t have the season we were projected to have,” Goodwin said. “If I had averaged what I averaged on a winning team, I feel like I would have gone higher, definitely.”
Coming into training camp, Goodwin was the third-string shooting guard behind multiple NBA champion Shannon Brown and the newly acquired Eric Bledsoe, who also went to Kentucky. But that soon changed when General Manager Ryan McDonough orchestrated a trade that gave Goodwin sole possession of the backup shooting guard spot.
With Goodwin receiving more playing time, the tandem from Kentucky may even play together from time to time, since they are both so versatile.
“(Eric and I) both went to the same school, so we’ll always have that in common,” Goodwin said. “That brotherhood I’ve had with him at Kentucky (even though they never played together there) has carried on to this level. He can obviously teach me some things I don’t know.”
Bledsoe enjoys his role as mentor.
“Archie is young right now and he is in a learning mode here and he is in a great place,” he said. “It feels good to have somebody that went to the same college and to have that bond.”
Bledsoe can pass on some of the knowledge he learned in Los Angeles under the tutelage of Chris Paul, one of the NBA’s best point guards. Bledsoe is coming out from under the shadow of CP3 to flourish in Phoenix.
That bond is evident as Goodwin and Bledsoe hang out and watch tape together, according to Coach Jeff Hornacek.
Goodwin has the right attitude to learn and improve in this league.
“He’s constantly asking questions,” Hornacek said. “You only have to show him one time. Then the next time you see him in the play, he’s doing it. It’s great to see a young guy who’s learning.”
“I think he is a terrific player,” said Bledsoe. “Right now he has to learn to be a little more patient which is pretty typical of a rookie in the league.”