As anyone who has paid a modicum of attention to the draft process probably knows, Draft Express is by far the most essential resource for anyone who wants to even have an inkling of a chance of staying abreast of the entire process. They offer a staggering amount of information on pretty much every prospect imaginable and without it, yours truly would be a far less informed and knowledgeable person on this event. As a result, the mock draft from Draft Express, as much as it is educated guessing like the rest of them and more geared towards being a ranking of prospects than something tailored towards team needs, carries with it a certain heft. In any case, let us review their selection:
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This would have been unthinkable at the start of the year since Goodwin was the twelfth ranked recruiting prospect and seemingly another part of John Calipari's absurd ability to bring together massive collections of talent together at Kentucky. Of course, the Wildcats fizzled as Nerlens Noel got hurt and the team failed to gel in the meantime, all things that helped to send Goodwin's stock spiraling downwards. For his own part, Goodwin wasn't helping his case on the court, as he was heavily turnover prone and consistently limited by a broken jumper and a general lack of polish on his game. As Kentucky flamed out in the NIT, Goodwin made a curious decision to declare even though his stock had thoroughly tanked and now a team in the second round could stand to benefit from the draft's youngest prospect.
That's the key thing to remember when considering Goodwin: the dude is eighteen years old. Sure, he struggled at Kentucky. He was also asked to shoulder a staggering 27.2 usage rate because no one else on the team was remotely equipped to perform that task. Goodwin certainly wasn't either to be sure and his game suffered as a result, but it also has made us overlook Goodwin's nice tools in the process. Very long for the two guard spot with a 6'10'' wingspan as well as decent height, Goodwin has solid athleticism and a good first step that served as the primary strength of his game at Kentucky.
Goodwin's goal on most every possession was to take the rock and get to the rim, which he did well in transition, the pick-and-roll, and in isolation. Although not particularly accurate around the rim as a finisher, only getting 54.5% of his shots to go in the basket from that area, he also drew 7.9 free throws per 40 minutes, a great mark for a professed slasher. The big problem was that he was unable to make defenses pay for packing the lane or playing the drive all the time, as he only made 33% of his jumpers the entire season. A combination of terrible mechanics and a lack of confidence after a hot start to the season sabotaged him in this regard and there's little doubt that this is the biggest part of his game that will have to improve for him to succeed in the league.
On the subject of his offensive contributions, Goodwin's pick-and-roll game deserves particular attention since Goodwin was able to both create shots as a ballhandler rounding the corner on the pick and as a distributor. His aforementioned first step allowed him to create separation from his defender on his way to the rim and he was decent at passing while on the move. A good deal of mistakes also accompanied those attempts, hence the 3.1 turnovers per game, but Goodwin justified some of hype that he could possibly play some point guard at some juncture. That won't be his future at the moment by any means, although it indicates Goodwin's upside as a perimeter creator that the Lakers could really benefit from at some point down the road.
That potential aspect notably rears its head with Goodwin on the defensive end, as his 6'10'' wingspan, quick feet, and ability as a freshman wing to fight well through screens and act as Kentucky's primary perimeter stopper all speak well to his bona fides. On the ball, Goodwin held his opponents to 31% shooting, including 26% on jumpers and 22% on catch-and-shoot attempts. Goodwin certainly had his ups and downs due to his inexperience and the offensive load he shouldered, but there's little doubt that he could do more than hold his own against NBA wings should his development proceed smoothly.
And ultimately, this is what it comes down to: whether the Lakers can be patient with Goodwin as he fights through the inevitable mistakes he is going to make along the way. A heavy amount of D-League seasoning is likely in order from the outset of the season assuming Goodwin isn't pressed into duty as Kobe Bryant recovers from his Achilles injury. While Mike D'Antoni will no doubt appreciate Goodwin's ability to create in the pick-and-roll, that lack of shooting is a big problem. Still, as we noted with Ray McCallum, you can teach shooting mechanics and defensive fundamentals; athleticism and other physical tools are immutable. This Lakers squad needs inexpensive help in the worst way from this draft, but Goodwin would be a play for two or three years down the road when the Lakers could emerge with one of the better players of the 2013 draft.
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