Sometimes, very good players take a while to catch on, and this principle is particularly true of point guards.
As David reported earlier tonight, the New Orleans Pelicans have signed free agent Archie Goodwin. This marks his second NBA stop after three seasons of mixed reviews with the Phoenix Suns. Goodwin make the mistake of coming out after just one season at Kentucky, and he was not drafted until the 29th pick in the 2013 draft.
Early in his lone collegiate season, Goodwin was thought to have lottery pick talent, but he slipped in the draft, and Phoenix scooped him up before his fate became that of a “one and done” second-rounder. For a guy whose talents had promised him so much, he now has a much tougher path to carve as a late-first round pick. Perhaps he should have spent another season or two honing his game under Coach John Calipari at Kentucky.
Maybe it will not matter in the long run.
He is just 22 years old and has a lot of good years to offer, and if all goes according to plan, those could be spent in a New Orleans Pelicans uniform. The explosiveness of Goodwin and his natural basketball skills fall into the proverbial “can’t be taught” list. He is a legitimate talent that was once thought to be one of the best in his class.
But, let’s not jump the gun here. Although the 0-6 Pelicans are in need of dire help, he is not going to entirely, if at all, change New Orleans’ fate.
That is asking a bit much for a guy who was waived after the recent preseason, but the Suns’ choice to release Goodwin had as much to do with a crowded backcourt as anything else. There are too many guards in the desert. No matter. Phoenix’s loss was bound to be some team’s gain, and after Lance Stephenson suffered a groin injury that caused the Pelicans to waive the enigmatic 2-guard, it opened up the roster space for Goodwin.
What can be expected from Goodwin? For starters, he can flat out score the ball. He is plenty explosive, and he is lightning quick. Goodwin can elevate for some true highlights.
Goodwin will bring plenty of excitement. What he will not bring is three point shooting, so the Pelicans will continue to lack for more desirable court spacing. He has shot just 41.9 percent from the floor and 22.7 percent from three over his first 150 NBA games. He can also be turnover prone, as last season he averaged nearly as many turnovers (1.8 per game) as assists (2.1).
A lot of those issues are problematic of rookies guards, which in terms of games played he no longer is necessarily. But he is not saturated with experience nor has he logged a ton of minutes, and as Goodwin grows, the Pelicans can develop a guy whose skills certainly could allow him to translate into a viable rotation guard — even for a good team, which no one is saying the Pelicans are at this point.
Last season in 57 games with Phoenix (13 starts), Goodwin averaged 8.9 points, 2.5 rebounds, 2.1 assists and 0.7 blocks/steals per game while playing just under 20 minutes per game. But he did certainly have his moments, too. The month of January, in particular, really exhibited what Goodwin was capable of as an NBA point.
He had seven games with 20 points or more while starting 12 games straight as Eric Bledsoe missed time with injury back in January/February. Phoenix went 1-11 over that stretch, but it was hard to place much of the blame on Goodwin. The Suns were just a wreck of a team.
He had three games straight with 20 or more, including a 26-point, 6-rebound and 6-assist effort against the Philadelphia 76ers on January 26th. Sure, it was the Sixers, and yes the Suns lost that game, but Goodwin is a true scorer. He averaged 14.1 points per game in his lone NCAA season on the perpetually loaded Wildcats team. His scoring will help, and even after Jrue Holiday returns, it’s not out of the realm of thinking he and the thriving Tim Frazier will continue to see minutes. Unless the Pelicans can reverse midstream, developing the young and unestablished talents on this roster has to be a priority soon with playoff contention nothing but a delusional dream.
Do not expect Goodwin to take this team and turn it into something resembling a winner. That is not realistic nor fair, but he will make an impact and if nothing else, he will bring plenty of excitement to a team that is in need of both some fun and some wins. If he can only help with half of that equation, Goodwin is still a nice signing for the Pelicans in the wake of Stephenson’s injury.
To be sure, Lance Stephenson’s groin injury is a disappointment; he seemed to be on the verge of breaking through and resembling something close to the player he was once with the Indiana Pacers.
But moving on, the silver lining in that cloud is most certainly Goodwin now. Today’s signing might not generate an outflowing of hype league-wide, but he showed last season he can be a major scorer and the Pelicans can certainly use that at the moment (29th offensive rating), particularly in the second unit.
And besides, after six winless games, Pelicans fans need something to get excited about because did you see Anthony Davis in his post-game comments following the loss to the Suns this past Friday?
For now, let’s let it be Goodwin.