Brandon Goodwin has spent most of the season in the G-League, receiving his first stint with the Hawks in early December. However, it wasn’t until the end of the month – after some more time with the College Park Skyhawks – that he received his first genuine opportunity to make an impact in Atlanta.
The Hawks were desperate for point guard depth behind Trae Young. The Evan Turner experiment was an utter failure, and while DeAndre Bembry, Kevin Huerter, and Cam Reddish can play some point guard in short spurts, it’s not their natural position by any means. Finally, Atlanta turned to Goodwin following Christmas break, and the second-year guard out of FGCU has proven he belongs in the NBA permanently.
Frankly, I have no idea why it took the Hawks so long to make this decision. Immediately, Goodwin was the best backup point guard the team had all season. In just his third game, he exploded for 21 points and six assists in only 21 minutes to secure a much-needed victory on the road over the Orlando Magic. Goodwin then followed it up with eight points or more off the bench in five of his next six contests. He’s got shake, handle, and swagger to go along with his ability to shoot the three-ball and facilitate. And right when you started to feel like the job was his to lose, the Hawks went out and acquired veteran point guard Jeff Teague.
Trading for Jeff Teague was far from a poor decision by Travis Schlenk. The former Hawk loves Atlanta, has a ton of experience, still has plenty of good years ahead of him, and could be the answer to Atlanta’s backup point guard problem beyond just this season. Oh, and they got him for the expiring contract of Allen Crabbe, which is literally nothing. However, I said it when the Hawks made the move for Teague, and it rings even more valid today: Lloyd Pierce needs to continue to play Brandon Goodwin.
Atlanta wasn’t doing that right away. With Teague and Trae Young active, Goodwin only averaged three minutes per game. But with Young absent last night, the second-year point guard got his chance to shine once again, and he’s making sure Lloyd Pierce takes notice.
In 19 minutes as the backup point guard, Goodwin dropped 19 points, including 3 three-pointers, all of which came in the final period, as the Hawks came roaring back to beat the Clippers. It was eerily similar to the performance that he had in Orlando and a reminder that he HAS to receive more minutes going forward.
There is no disputing the Hawks should continue to utilize Teague, but they need to have two point guards on the floor several times during each game. It’s not traditional, but in today’s era of positionless basketball, smaller lineups are becoming commonplace. Beyond that, the Hawks bench has been so egregious this season; there is no reason a player like Goodwin shouldn’t be seeing the floor for at least 10-15 minutes a night. Lloyd Pierce may have to adjust his rotations, but Goodwin’s earned a spot – not only on the roster but as a regular off the bench as well.