In this first installment of “Freshman Prospects Before New Year's”, I examine Archie Goodwin, one of Kentucky’s big four newcomers and the leading scorer of the bunch.

Hailing from Arkansas, Goodwin emerged on the scene as one of the top high school wings in the nation, earning a spot on both the Parade All American and McDonald’s All American teams. Like many top high school talents, Goodwin committed to Kentucky to play for John Calipari and his one-and-done mill.

Goodwin has stood out early on for the Wildcats and has proven to be their most potent offensive weapon. Due in large part to his world class athleticism, Goodwin is providing a big scoring punch attacking the rim and creating offense for himself. He is blessed with an exceptional, lengthy first step and the second gear to get around his man virtually at will at this level. Goodwin also has good hangtime, and is vertically explosive enough to complete highlight-reel dunks.

This has enabled him to finish at the rim, where he has been fairly efficient. Overall, he has posted a 52.9% eFG% so far this season (20th best in the SEC). From watching the tape, however, it becomes evident that Goodwin is not yet fully maximizing his scoring efficiency.

First, while he plays best with the ball in his hands, Goodwin is still adjusting to Calipari's system and to the point guard slot in general in lieu of Harrow’s illness and subsequent period of recovery. In addition to this challenge, Goodwin is still prone to freshman plays at the rim, hoisting up contested shots in transition when he does not have teammates immediately in view to bail him out.  I fully expect Goodwin to progress in his role and emerge as the most explosive guard in college basketball.

Not only is he explosive, though, but Goodwin also possesses a crafty enough handle to avoid defenders driving to the hoop. He can break down his man with a nasty crossover or spin around him en route to the rim. He is particularly effective at this latter move, and he tends to have great awareness of the opposing team defense, generally avoiding the charge when spinning around his man in traffic. He is also capable of breaking down his defender with a change-of-pace dribble maneuver, and he will only get better at this move as the season progresses. As it currently stands, he does not stop on a dime and explode as many NBA point guards do. Instead, he utilizes his burst of speed when initiating the offense at the top of the key and continues to attack the rim with the same tenacity with which he began his drive. 

Like the many great slashers before him, (Dwyane Wade, Russell Westbrook, James Harden, etc.) Goodwin possesses a good understanding of how to knife through defenses, and does a tremendous job of getting his shot off the dribble. He possesses a fairly advanced Euro step, which makes him virtually impossible to guard one-on-one in transition. Couple this with his elite athleticism and body control, and it is clear that Goodwin will stand out as a slasher at the next level. In fact, with the defensive three second rule in place at the next level, I predict that Goodwin will have an easier time transitioning to the spacing of the NBA.

As a result of his ability to attack the rim, Goodwin has drawn fouls at an extremely high rate so far this season. In fact, his 6.7 fouls drawn per 40 minutes of play ranks 50th in the nation. As a point of reference, (not yet a valid comparison because we do not have a full year sample size) James Harden averaged 6.6, John Wall had 5.5, and Derrick Rose finished with 5.3 fouls drawn per 40 minutes before entering the NBA. If Archie Goodwin continues at this pace, that would put him in fairly elite company. In addition, his 68.6% FT Rate (or Free Throw Attempts per Field Goal Attempts) currently ranks 68th in the nation, meaning that he is getting to the line a lot relative to the number of shots he is taking. And, because Goodwin does not typically get fouled when attempting jump shots, it is clear that the vast majority of his trips to the line come after he drives the ball hard to the rim.  Despite his strengths drawing fouls, Goodwin tends to over-extend his arm and push off at times, and this will always lead to offensive fouls.

While Goodwin projects as a high scoring weapon off the dribble, he has taken over Harrow’s point guard duties with mixed results. In general, Goodwin has fairly good vision with the ball in his hands and usually looks for open shooters off the bounce. (his favorite target tends to be Julius Mays)  Because he is so adept at getting defenses to converge on him, Goodwin has been able to dish the ball off to his frontcourt teammates as well for easy lay ins when he drives close to the basket. In transition, Goodwin always has his head up and typically makes the right play. Overall, he currently has the 14th best Assist Rate in the SEC (just behind BJ Young) and is averaging 5.5 Assists per 40 minutes, which is highly favorable considering the fact that he just transitioned to the position.

With all of that said, Goodwin has been very turnover prone at times, particularly in halfcourt sets. Goodwin has the terrible tendency of leaving his feet before he decides what to do with the ball. This is particularly evident when he tries to pass the ball out after getting deep in the lane. He tends to make other “freshman” mistakes as well, such as continuing to push the ball in transition when he does not have numbers. As a result of these habits, Goodwin is averaging a staggering 4.0 Turnovers per 40 minutes of play. I expect that this number will decrease considerably as Goodwin adjusts to the mental aspect of college basketball and learns the “smart play” from the wrong one.

In terms of his ability to shoot from the perimeter, Goodwin is connecting on 46.7% of his 15 three point attempts. This is not a large enough sample size to reveal anything, and most of his attempts appeared to be uncontested. However, Goodwin does possess a rather unorthodox slingshot motion on his long range shooting form, which tends to take rather long. Despite this, though, he does appear comfortable pulling up off the dribble and connecting on rather difficult jump shots fading away from the basket. If he can tweak his shooting form at the next level, which will not be all that difficult to correct in my opinion, he should improve upon his subpar 65.3% Free Throw % and do a better job capitalizing on his many trips to the line.

Aside from his production on the offensive end, Goodwin is also a good defensive rebounder due to his speed, quick leaping ability, and knack for the ball.

In terms of his production on defense, Goodwin is a very good shot blocking guard and is also capable  of stealing the ball away from his opponents. He does a nice job recovering and making spectacular plays blocking shots in transition. His excellent 6’10 wingspan coupled with his world class athleticism enable him to recover very quickly and block shots on the break. In terms of his ability to gather steals, Goodwin has very quick hands and is able to collect them on occasion. For comparison’s sake, Goodwin currently ranks 24th in the SEC in Blocks % and 43rd in steals %. (both of which are in the top half of the conference)

With regard to his overall defensive capabilities, Archie Goodwin displays excellent lateral quickness and this should allow him to develop into an elite defender down the road. He is versatile enough to guard lightning quick point guards or defend the wing due to his athleticism and wingspan. With that said, when he gets beat off the dribble and is trying to recover, he tends to commit weak fouls, which open the door for ‘and 1’ opportunities. In these instances, he tends to focus too much on his opponent’s body and angling the opponent away from the basket as opposed to getting in position to draw a charge. In fact, Goodwin rarely puts himself in the position to draw offensive fouls. Additionally, Goodwin has a difficult time fighting through screens, but should make this adjustment in time. He has trouble overplaying the screens and tends to get caught on them, leading to open jump shots. Finally, Goodwin must continue to work on his three point shooting closeouts, as he tends to allow jump shooters too much space.

All in all, Goodwin projects as an athletic slasher with arguably the highest upside in the 2013 draft. He must continue to learn how to play without the ball in his hands, as he struggles using screens effectively. Goodwin must also adapt to the point guard slot if he hopes to receive major minutes at the next level. With all of that said, Goodwin possesses elite tools which cannot be taught, and the motor to become a top player down the road. Keep an eye on him as the season progresses, as he has a shot at a top-3 selection if he can cut down on his turnovers and demonstrate some semblance of a perimeter stroke.