PHOENIX — Six Phoenix Suns’ rotation players, including three-fifths of the starting lineup, have NBA Development League experience. It’s part of the road they traveled to get to where they are today, integral pieces in one of the bigger surprise stories through the first half of the season.
Now it’s a road Archie Goodwin will travel.
The Suns assigned the rookie combo guard to their D-League affiliate, the Bakersfield Jam, for what is expected to be a two-game stay.
“We feel like it’s crucial for Archie to get experience, to stay sharp. There’s only so much you can do in practice, especially this time of year when we’re not practicing as frequently,” GM Ryan McDonough said. “Where we are as a team is a little different than where most people expected us to be halfway through the season, so we feel like it’s critical for our future and for Archie’s future to have him keep playing in game action.”
Goodwin, the 29th overall pick out of Kentucky, was informed of the decision Wednesday.
“It’s important for me to play,” he said after the Suns blistered the Indiana Pacers, 124-100.
The plan, according to McDonough, is for Goodwin to play games Friday (against Sioux Falls) and Saturday (against Reno) and then rejoin the Suns Sunday in Cleveland for the start of a four-game, five-day road trip.
Playing time recently has been hit-or-miss for Goodwin, who at 19 is the second youngest player in the NBA. He was not able to get off the bench (DNP-Coach’s Decision) for three straight games following the addition of Leandro Barbosa and has only logged a total of 19 minutes in the past five games.
Head coach Jeff Hornacek hinted at a possible D-League assignment late last week.
“You don’t want a guy to sit around and not play. You want the young guys to continue to play and not lose any confidence,” he said.
McDonough agreed, saying, “We need him to play. We need him to get into rhythm and continue to develop.”
Goodwin has appeared in 36 games, averaging three points and nearly two rebounds in 10 minutes.
“I don’t feel like my confidence has left,” he said, clearly disappointed about the move. “It’s just an opportunity for me to play, so just to show them things that I’ve been working on; and just go out there and make the best of the opportunity.”
A tireless worker, Goodwin is in the gym every day, sometimes twice a day, including on non-game and practice days with player development coach Irving Roland and basketball operations intern Chris Darnell.
The Suns want to see how much the extra work has paid off, especially with his ball handling and shooting. Goodwin has only made three of his 28 three-point attempts.
“We’ll see what he can do,” McDonough said. “Hopefully it’s a good experience for him. He gets down there and continues to work on his game…with the plan being that if we get him some experience now maybe he can help us with the Suns later in the season.”