To the great satisfaction of many Big Blue fans, including me, and to the surprise of some of his detractors, Archie Goodwin was picked #29 in the first round of the 2013 NBA Draft last night by the Golden St. Warriors, and immediately traded to the Phoenix Suns as the two teams swapped the 29th and 30th pick.
In a draft that saw putative #1 pick and UK teammate Nerlens Noel slip all the way down to sixth, it was something of a surprise to see Goodwin go pretty much where everyone expected he would, in the late 20's. Goodwin is the youngest American player and the second-youngest overall player to be selected last night.
We all know that Archie had his ups and downs at Kentucky, but there is no denying his athletic talent, even if his actual basketball skill is still very raw. He also has a remarkable 6'10" wingspan, which makes him the kind of long, athletic player that every NBA team is always glad to have available.
Over at SB Nation's Phoenix site, The Bright Side of the Sun, reaction was mixed. Many were happy with Archie's vast upside, but several others preferred a more polished product like Allen Crabbe from Cal or Jamaal Franklin from San Diego St., but neither of those guys possess the diversity of skills that Goodwin does, or the athletic upside. Goodwin would be considered a combo guard at the NBA level, possessing both point guard and off-guard skills, but lacking a consistent shooting stroke. BSotS ties it all up in a neat bow in a later article.
If Goodwin can develop consistency from the perimeter and NBA range on his jumper, he will easily justify his first-round status. Even if he can't do that in the near term, though, his quick first step and explosive athleticism could turn him into a player similar to Tyreke Evans, although I'd be surprised if that happens for a while yet.
With all that said, everyone here in the Big Blue Nation recognizes that Goodwin is far from a finished product, and players as raw as he is can easily go sideways under the wrong conditions. Fortunately for Goodwin, the Suns are a highly respected organization who have a new coach, Jeff Hornacek, and a new General Manager, Ryan McDonough. Gone are the halcyon days of Steve Nash, who was traded to Los Angeles during the 2012 free agency period.
Congratulations are in order, I think, to both Goodwin and the Suns. Archie had an uncharacteristically difficult year at Kentucky, and many will consider him fortunate to be in the situation he finds himself in right now. But it's very clear that the Suns really liked what they saw in Goodwin, and there is plenty there to like. Yes, there are also things to dislike, but this was a draft full of high-upside long-term projects, of which Goodwin is just one.