If “youth is wasted on the young” as Irish playwright George Bernard Shaw once said, then talent most certainly is not.
Talent, young talent, is celebrated and held in extreme value.
Archie Goodwin is that type of talent, at least that’s what the Suns believe.
The team thought enough of the 18-year-old that they agreed to assume Malcolm Lee’s $854,000 contract just to swap spots with Golden State for the opportunity to draft the Kentucky guard with the 29th overall pick.
“He’s got that ability to get to the basket,” head coach Jeff Hornacek said of Goodwin, who will turn 19 on August 17.
Age is merely a number with Goodwin, who is among 12 players going through a three-day minicamp this week at US Airways Center in preparation for the NBA Summer League in Las Vegas, which for the Suns starts this weekend.
“(His age) was one of the things that maybe was a concern when he came in,” Hornacek said Wednesday. “How much of the game does he know? How fast will he pick stuff up? He’s picking stuff up better than we expected. We’re throwing a lot of stuff at these guys. He knows it all.”
Goodwin, 6’5″ and 198 pounds, can play either guard position, though he called point guard “my natural position… that’s been what I’ve been playing my whole life.”
As the point guard at Kentucky, he was the leading scorer his one and only season, averaging 14.1 points, 4.6 rebounds, 2.7 assists and 1.1 steals in 31.8 minutes; numbers that placed him on the SEC All-Freshman Team.
He’s become a freshman all over again, only now in the NBA.
“Just getting my shot a lot more consistent and getting stronger; and just continuing playing with the pace,” said Goodwin, listing the areas he wants to work on and improve prior to the season.
His biggest adjustment, according to Hornacek, will be mental.
“When he attacks the basket (he can’t) just think shot. He’s got to think, ‘Is it open for the shot?’ If it’s not, then make that extra pass,” he said. “Those are things that — it’s a little different in the NBA when things collapse a little bit quicker than in college.”
Goodwin, the second-youngest player drafted, agreed.
“As fast as we play, you’re going to have to think at a fast rate instead of playing fast and just going off of instincts,” he said. “Just thinking a lot more and thinking through and playing with pace, those are really things that I’m going to have to adjust to.”
And though his pro career is only a couple of days old, Goodwin appears to be adjusting well.
“I think the first practice was maybe a little, the physical play maybe his eyes were opened a little bit,” Hornacek said. “But he’s battled these last two and now he doesn’t even look like he’s an 18-year-old out there.”