There’s no denying that Archie Goodwin is a fun player to watch (scroll down for that dunk video if you don’t believe me. Watch it twice for good measure. Say “Brrrr” if you’re feeling the chill). His energy, athleticism, and quickness all combine for an insane ability to finish, and he fits perfectly into Kentucky’s up-tempo style of transition play that they’re sporting this season. Last night, Archie finished with 13 points, 3 rebounds, 3 assists… and 3 turnovers.
Those three turnovers lead us to the one sore spot in Archie’s game- he’s still a high risk, high reward player. He’s playing too fast, too furious, taking ill-advised shots and careening out of control on some of his drives. It’s starting to add up in the turnovers column. Goodwin has had ten on the season- the most of any Wildcat and one more than his assist total- and his decision-making even against a cupcake team like Lafayette has caused Calipari to yank him for a stern talking-to on the bench. I hate to say anything negative about that dunk last night (mostly because I’m afraid Archie will come up to Chicago and dunk on me while I cower meekly in the corner), but he had Willie Cauley-Stein wide open for the auto lob and could have easily avoided the charge and dangerous play. Calipari noticed, and wanted to talk about it, loudly, on the bench immediately after. Against Lafayette? Not a huge mistake over the course of the game. Against any team after the Hostess portion of our schedule? Could be dangerous.
There’s a few possible explanations for Goodwin’s erratic play style thus far. First, the typical freshman syndrome. We know freshmen (especially at the Kentucky level of play) need a few games to get the jitters out and quit trying to do too much too soon. Calipari has been through this before with nearly every elite guard he’s coached at Kentucky, and has in fact compared Goodwin to former Memphis player Tyreke Evans in terms of development. After two high-profile games away from Rupp to start the season, I expect Archie to settle down some before the next portion of the schedule.
Also, Goodwin has been forced to play out of his position so far this season. With Harrow sick (but hopefully back on Sunday, according to Calipari in last night’s post game presser), Goodwin has been taking his turn at running the point. He does a fine job- he can bring the ball up comfortably, he’s an aggressive driver, and his size is ideal for point guard. But just like Garth Brooks looked unnatural and uncomfortable in his attempted new role (and his wig) as Chris Gaines, so does Goodwin look a little awkward in his recent role as point guard. Goodwin doesn’t know how to create shots for other people (as seen in his unnecessary blarge during his dunk with WCS wide open), and he’s not yet comfortable running Kentucky’s set offense. When Ryan Harrow returns and Goodwin moves back to shooting guard, I predict his play will become much more efficient with less turnovers, more points, and more posters that Ryan Harrow can caption for motivation in his bedroom.
Like Calipari constantly reminds us, our Cats are a mid-November team. Archie is the epitome of a mid-November elite freshman. If there’s a silver lining to his reckless play so far, it’s that we know Archie ain’t never scared. He WILL drive to the basket and he WILL dunk all over you. If-WHEN- Goodwin can gain control over his faculties (and maybe round out his game with better rebounding and defensive effort), he can challenge Poythress for leading scorer and Nerlens Noel for hustle MVP- moving from a high risk/high reward player to an absolutely terrifying Weapon of Mass Destruction. And when that happens- I’m booking my ticket to Atlanta.