Kentucky freshman Archie Goodwin, although not as heralded as those before him, joins the long line of John Calipari’s super-athletic guards set to test the NBA waters a few years early. Goodwin’s most distinctive trait is his elite athleticism. He has great foot quickness, leaping ability, speed in the open court, and explosiveness around the rim. Goodwin plays the game on offense with a relentless, attack-the-rim mindset. He is a strong ball handler with very good penetration skills and the ability to blow by his man from the perimeter. Goodwin has good body control in the lane and more than enough athleticism to finish at the rim or draw a foul against bigger and longer players. Goodwin led the SEC in free throw attempts this season, a testament to his super-aggressive mindset and athleticism in the lane. He has a good finishing touch from about 8 feet and in, either by blowing by defenders or absorbing contact and retaining his balance. Goodwin does a great job of hanging in the air to get his shot off, an innate ability that his elite athleticism provides him over his opponents. Goodwin is extremely aggressive in transition, constantly seeking to run the floor and taking the ball straight to the rim when he does lead the break. But even with Goodwin’s scoring instincts, he is still an unselfish player with the ability to create for others, particularly in fast break scenarios. Goodwin has a knack for scoring and getting into the lane, a trait that is most supported by his elite athleticism and ability to get to wherever he wants on the floor with the ball in his hands.
For all of the potential that Goodwin’s athleticism brings, he is one of the most raw first-round guard prospects that Calipari has produced in his years at Kentucky and Memphis. To take the next step as a shooting guard, Goodwin has to rework the fundamentals of his jump shot. His shot is pretty flat, and his numbers are inconsistent, especially off the dribble. Goodwin does not have very good range on his jump shot (26.6% from three this year), and lacks much of a midrange or pull-up game. Because of this, he struggles to consistently produce in the half court unless he is beating his man off the dribble and getting into the lane. Goodwin’s decision making is also poor and needs a lot of time and playing experience to improve. He often displays very poor shot selection, settling for jump shots against less athletic defenders or taking out-of-control shots off of the drive. Goodwin is turnover-prone, trying to force passes at times even though he is not a natural passer. For the most part, Goodwin plays at one speed, without a great sense of when to slow his game down or use tempo and pace to his advantage. Goodwin has elite physical traits, but needs a lot more experience to grasp the nuances of an efficient and balanced offensive game.
Goodwin’s athleticism, size, and length project him to be a very good defender is he adds a bit of weight to his frame. First and foremost, he displays the motor and competitiveness necessary to be a good defensive player at the next level. Goodwin is versatile in that he can chase shooters around the wing or defend on the ball against penetrators. He is at his best against opposing shooting guards, because he can use his length to disrupt shooters without giving up too much on the drive. He is a plus rebounder for his position that is not afraid to drift down into the paint and elevate to grab a few boards a game. As Goodwin gets more coaching at the next level and fills out his frame, he has the potential to be a strong defensive player with the ability to compete against the opposing team’s best perimeter scorer.
As is the case on the offensive end, Goodwin is still a pretty raw prospect defensively who is still some time away from reaching his full potential. His biggest weakness is consistently staying in front of his man. While he definitely has the foot speed to keep speedy guards in front of him, Goodwin often gambles for turnovers or guards his man too aggressively. He plays too much individual defense and not enough team defense, often overpursuing on rotations and closeouts instead of committing to keep his man in front of him and avoiding defensive breakdowns. Goodwin struggles to guard in the post against bigger guards and small forwards, and is often overwhelmed by size and strength down low. Some scouts question his overall toughness defensively, wanting to see more resistance when his man lowers his shoulder and drives into the lane. Goodwin needs to add some size and improve his defensive fundamentals before taking the leap from a decent to a good perimeter defender.
After what was a disappointing season for all of those associated with Kentucky basketball, Goodwin’s stock has dropped from a potential lottery pick to a likely mid-to-late first rounder. There are not many guards in the NCAA with Goodwin’s athletic ability. He is extremely quick in bursts and in the open floor, has outstanding leaping ability, and can hang in the air longer than his man, all of which are great compliments to his relentless attacking style on offense. With every touch, Goodwin’s first thought is to get the ball to the rim. He is a force in transition, but can also beat his man in the half court with his explosiveness. He is very productive in the paint, whether he finishes or draws contact and gets to the line. But while Goodwin is a strong player at full speed, he still needs a lot of refinement for his offensive game when the pace slows down. His perimeter jump shot is a work in progress, as is his midrange game and passing instincts. Goodwin’s decision making has a long way to go, as he struggled with turnovers and shot selection this year. Defensively, Goodwin competes hard and can defend both guard spots with his speed and length. But while he can be a good individual defender, he has to improve his fundamental team concepts to stay on the floor at the next level. The good news is that with his elite athleticism, his youth, and his relentless motor on the floor, Goodwin appears to be a very coachable prospect with high upside. However, he is still overall a very raw player that is going to need years of coaching and experience before his full potential is realized.