Posted: 4:12 p.m. Wednesday, June 5, 2013
By Glenn Logan
Archie Goodwin came to Kentucky exactly as he leaves it -- an athletic wing player with an inconsistent jump shot. This normally doesn't happen on John Calipari-coached basketball teams, but it has a few times.
Goodwin began his Kentucky career with great promise, having big games against MMorehead St. and LLong Island University. He also single-handedly threw a scare in the the Louisville Cardinals late in that loss. But as the season went on, Goodwin's flaws began to show up more often. Scouting of him got better, and he became less and less effective.
A lot of Kentucky fans think Goodwin was a selfish player, taking too many shots. He had the proverbial "When all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail" syndrome, in which Goodwin would constantly perform drives into traffic trying to make an athletic play at the rim. Needless to say, this produced charge calls only slightly less often than it got him to the line.
I think, though, that Goodwin was mostly misunderstood. Most of his frantic drives happened late in the shot clock, and I think he had the idea that if they hadn't found a shot by then, he was going to have to do it himself. A lot of players come to Kentucky with that attitude, and Goodwin had less patience with it than most.
The Kentucky player Goodwin most reminds me of is Rodrick Rhodes. They both had very similar games, and a similarly inconsistent perimeter shot. Where they differed is that Goodwin knew he couldn't make jump shots, and rarely shot them. Rhodes, on the other hand, couldn't pass them up.
Unfortunately, he'll be most remembered for Calipari's comment in the Tennessee Volunteers game where the Vols were busily blowing Kentucky out of their gym. Calipari reportedly said "I can't coach you," apparently directed at Goodwin.
Whether that's actually what happened or not, it became a meme around the Big Blue Nation, and Calipari's later comments referring to some members of the team as being "not real coachable," later translated to be "uncoachable" by the media, stuck mostly as a criticism of Goodwin, whether he was one of the intended targets or not.
Whatever the case, this is how Archie was perceived by the Big Blue Nation. I contend it is likely to be at least overblown and possibly unfair, but in all honesty, you cannot ignore the evidence supporting the idea that Goodwin rejected much of Calipari's coaching.
There's not much wrong in the coverage, but one thing I think is under-appreciated is Goodwin's durability. There may be no player in Kentucky's history that has been hit harder, or more times, than Archie Goodwin. He hit the floor at least five times every single game, many times hard and awkwardly. Not once did he limp, lay on the ground, or make a showing of pain.
Near the end of the Robert Morris loss, Goodwin absorbed major punishment from what was ruled a level 2 flagrant foul, and I have rarely seen a player hit the ground that hard and bounce up that quickly. This kid does not know what pain means, and if he feels any, he sure does hide it well.
NBA fans will love his athleticism and first step. They will really love what he does in transition, especially when he finally learns to use his left hand for something other than a symmetrical adornment.
NBA fans will hate his tendency to throw himself into traffic and perform all manner of unlikely physical contortions to get off really bad shots.
But more than that, they'll really hate how inconsistent he is from the perimeter. Goodwin's jumpshot form is not the worst you'll see, but his lower body is the biggest problem. He's always shooting at angles or off balance, and at a very flat trajectory. Getting his shooting form fixed is Job One for whoever drafts him.
Goodwin needed a leader to help him mature, and although Kentucky had some leadership on the floor last year, it was fairly weak and not the "alpha male" sort of leadership that Goodwin required to really improve. The dynamic on last year's team was a kind of slow-acting poison that eventually made a mess of the team, Goodwin included. How much he contributed to that dynamic is a matter of debate.
That will all change in the NBA. Almost every NBA team has "that guy" who tries to drag the team along with him and challenges the young guys to play better and work harder. If Goodwin gets that, his development could be pretty quick. I fear, though, he's going to spend a lot of time in the D-League until he gets his shooting straightened out. We'll have to see.