Jordan Goodwin’s winning attributes headline Suns’ summer league

Jul 7, 2023, 7:05 AM | Updated: 8:10 am

Jordan Goodwin #7 of the Washington Wizards brings the ball up court against the Houston Rockets du...

Jordan Goodwin #7 of the Washington Wizards brings the ball up court against the Houston Rockets during the second half at Capital One Arena on April 9, 2023 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images)

(Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images)

PHOENIX — We do real-time processing of trades in a strange way. Ninety-nine times out of 100, a news-breaker leads with the headlining player, allowing us to immediately react without knowing the full details.

Minutes or sometimes even hours go by waiting for the entire scope, such as other players or picks included, and also specificities on protections for draft picks.

Nearly three hours had passed on June 18 since the Bradley Beal earthquake hit, and then the aftershock brought on a big tidbit from The Athletic’s Josh Robbins that Washington Wizards guard Jordan Goodwin was a part of the package coming back to the Phoenix Suns.

With the Suns’ severe limitations at hand in terms of adding rotation pieces to the roster this offseason and how Goodwin emerged on the Wizards last season, it was a significant addition, one that could prove to be crucial once April and May roll around.

Goodwin, 24, was a four-star recruit out of high school and spent four years at Saint Louis, making First Team All-Atlantic-10 his last two seasons. He went undrafted in 2021, played in summer league for Washington and earned a contract to be on the training camp roster before getting waived to go the G League route.

He impressed enough to earn a 10-day contract as a rookie but his big break would come in Year 2 when the Wizards signed him to a two-way contract.

Goodwin is a pristine example of how all it takes for some guys is one opportunity. But sometimes it requires a few.

Robbins wrote that a preseason injury to Corey Kispert and early struggles for first-round pick Johnny Davis led to Washington signing Goodwin to that two-way deal just before the regular season got underway.

In the fourth game of the 2022-23 campaign, backup guard Delon Wright injured his hamstring. After Washington head coach Wes Unseld Jr. tried some different names for five contests, including Goodwin for 18 minutes of a loss to the Celtics, he lost his star in Beal to another hamstring knick.

Goodwin was the next man up in game No. 10. And he was pretty much a key fixture of the rotation the rest of the year.

Could that happen for him again in Phoenix? Goodwin headlines its summer league roster and is the guy to watch for the squad, beginning on Saturday in Las Vegas.

The 6-foot-3 guard is simply a winning player.

“He’s an unbelievable competitor,” Suns assistant coach and summer league head coach Quinton Crawford said Thursday. “Wants to win at any cost, will do whatever he needs to do for his teammates. He’s a tremendous teammate. He wants to pick up full court, he wants to change the game with his pace.”

In 17.8 minutes a night, Goodwin averaged 6.6 points, 3.3 rebounds, 2.7 assists and 0.9 steals while shooting 44.8% from the field.

Goodwin has already established himself as a plus defender with 64 NBA games under his belt. He’s great at being a consistent presence on his man, whether on or off the ball.

He’s a tremendous rebounder for his size. Goodwin averaged a double-double in his last two years at Saint Louis and per 36 minutes he snagged nearly seven a game for the Wizards last year.

“Just gonna give my all every night,” Goodwin said Wednesday of how he’d advertise his game. “I’m not gonna take the day off. I’m always gonna be out there competing 100% even through a mistake, I’m still gonna play hard, no matter what the score is. And that’s every night.”

One guy who certainly caught on to this was Memphis Grizzlies center Steven Adams, one of the game’s great offensive rebounders who had a few more opportunities squandered by Goodwin, who Adams has eight inches and 65 pounds on.

This is by no means the best hustle you’re ever going to see but Goodwin is just always going to position himself in the vicinity when a shot goes up. Specifically against Memphis, he knows his crashes are going to be even more important given Adams’ proficiency.

The last clip here includes Adams giving Goodwin a tap and saying something, probably to the effect of handing the guard some props for the battle.

The assist numbers suggest Goodwin can pass a bit and indeed he can. His playmaking off the dribble won’t be something the Suns turn to much next season, even though he can make the right pass on some drives, but what Goodwin can also do is be the setup man when one of their stars gets moving off the ball.

This is simple stuff (because it is) but Goodwin is essentially the initiator of these plays and that’s not something coaches willingly let anyone do.

It’s another way Phoenix can use Goodwin instead of stashing him in the corner.

His 32.2% mark on 118 total 3-point attempts last year will play a large part in determining how big his role will be throughout next season. His progression with that shot, like so many young wings, will dictate where he goes from here as an NBA player.

No one knows Goodwin’s attributes better than Beal, who Goodwin referred to as a mentor.

“I’m super excited about him,” Beal told Arizona Sports’ Wolf & Luke. “He’ll be a fan favorite, just from his work ethic, his dog-like mentality when he’s on the floor. He’s gonna compete at a high level as soon as he comes into the game every single moment. I’m excited that he has an opportunity to flap his wings over here and showcase what he can do. … He wasn’t just somebody [thrown] into the trade. He can be a very valuable piece to our team on both ends of the floor.”

The best part about Goodwin’s game is how naturally these skills combine in one sequence.

There’s creating transition opportunities himself.

Or an offensive rebound that is followed by the locating of a cutter.

Vegas will give Goodwin a chance to expand his game but keep an eye on those margins, where he will be making an impact later this fall.

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