The evolution of a viable NBA player coming out of college often goes as follows:
Step 1: Earn consistent minutes in a rotation.
Step 2: Start to establish yourself as a go-to player in fourth quarters.
Phoenix Suns guard Archie Goodwin’s second NBA season nearing its end, and he has just recently started getting comfortable with the first step, but he already has his eye on the next one.
“I’ve always thought of myself to be a player who can close games,” the combo guard told Arizona Sports 98.7 FM‘s Burns and Gambo on Friday. “When I was playing in the D-League, I was always the one closing the games for the team; now, granted, it is the D-League, but still I was closing the games there.
“Any level I’ve always been at, I’ve always been the type of person who wants the pressure of being able to help win a game in the crunch time; that’s how I am. I’m confident enough in myself to know that I can make the right play, whether it’s me shooting or creating for a teammate or getting a stop. I’ve always been confident enough to know that I could do that. So, I always love to be out there when the game really matters.”
Goodwin has yet to be a late-game staple in coach Jeff Hornacek’s rotation, but he has seen some time on the floor in 10 straight games, a marked improvement from his 14 Suns appearances and several D-League assignments prior to the All-Star break.
Over the last three games, the 6-foot-5 guard has received a total of 59 minutes of action, posting 26 points, 11 rebounds and seven assists in that time.
“I’ve really been just trying to take advantage of playing the smart way,” he said, “and just playing basketball the right way, instead of trying to go out there just thinking about myself. I’m thinking of ways to get my teammates involved, and so really that’s what I’ve been doing. And then, when the opportunity presents itself for me to be aggressive and attack the rim or whatever it may be, I do. It’s mostly just me learning to make the right basketball plays.”
Goodwin also said he’s trying to make an impact as a part of the team’s second unit, thanks to the opportunity that opened up for him after guards Goran Dragic, Isaiah Thomas and Tyler Ennis were dealt prior to the February trade deadline.
“They had no option but to play me now,” Goodwin said. “Because Eric (Bledsoe), as great of a player as he is, and Brandon (Knight) and those guys, they’re going to need breaks. I just want to come in and just try to make sure I can either give us a boost or just maintain the play that we’ve played. I don’t want it to be a drop-off when the second group comes in.”
The Kentucky product’s most natural fit is at shooting guard, but Knight’s recent ankle injury has opened up some room for Goodwin to play some point guard when Bledsoe needs a breather.
“I’m a bigger guard, (especially) when I’m playing at the one,” the 20-year-old performer said. “I’m a lot bigger than the other point guard, for the most part. So when I’m coming off of screens or wherever I’m coming off of what action, I can see a lot of things that maybe shorter guards can’t see. And so it’s easier for me to find certain players and certain situations than it would be for shorter guards.”