2019-20 Player Review: Brandon Goodwin
When Brandon Goodwin signed a two-way contract with the Hawks in August, it wasn’t just for his ties to the Atlanta area. The point guard attended Norcross High School -- a mere half-hour drive from State Farm Arena -- grew up just outside the city, but it was Goodwin’s basketball talent that appealed to the Hawks more than the optics of keeping a local kid on the team. Though he was back in his old stomping grounds and lived closer to his family, Lloyd Pierce told the young point guard not to lose sight of his long-term aspirations as a basketball player. Goodwin had a chance to carve out an NBA career; the opportunity just happened to come in his hometown.
Goodwin played sparingly for most of the season, averaging 6.1 points and 1.5 assists per game in less than 500 total minutes. He struggled to hit shots reliably and, as a 6-foot, 180-pound guard, had inherent physical limitations baked into his game. He didn’t see the floor in Atlanta’s first 20 games of the year, and played less than six combined minutes in his first two games with the Hawks. But the 24-year-old always competed hard, and when he received extended opportunities, he capitalized. Goodwin’s first flash of the season came in Orlando, where he notched a career-high 21 points and six assists in 22 minutes. Nearly a month later, he scored 19 fourth-quarter points to help lift the Hawks over the Clippers, and had become a regular part of Pierce’s rotation.
Goodwin’s ability to get hot in a hurry and pressure the ball on defense earned the favor of Pierce, his teammates, and the front office. On February 12, the Hawks converted Goodwin’s two-way deal into a two-year minimum contract that will earn him $1.7 million next season. How much opportunity Goodwin receives in his third NBA season, however, remains an open question. He was largely a break-in-case-of-emergency option when Trae Young was injured or Atlanta couldn’t find the requisite energy to hang in games. But the Hawks intend to compete for a playoff berth next season, which will likely require employing a backup point guard more capable than Goodwin.
For all his effort and zeal, the guard finished the season shooting just 30 percent from beyond the arc, with well below-average scoring efficiency. While he can scoot his way past defenders off the bounce, he has limited passing vision and struggles finishing around longer defenders at the rim, which makes it difficult for him to provide positive value on offense. He offers roughly neutral impact on defense, but his size makes it difficult for him to share the floor with Young without compromising Atlanta’s defense, which drastically reduces the amount of time it’s even possible to keep him on the floor.
It’s unlikely Goodwin rises any higher than the third point guard on the depth chart next season, though he’ll almost certainly be on the roster. It’s prudent to keep three point guards on the team as insurance against injuries or foul trouble, and Goodwin is a serviceable, if imperfect, stopgap in that role. If his shooting ticks up closer to league-average, Pierce could have more avenues to getting him on the floor. Either way, Goodwin has already capitalized on the opportunity the Hawks gave him last summer. He is an NBA player, working to gradually establish himself.