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An inside look at NBA Summer League with Jordan Goodwin

Goodwin, who is on an Exhibit 10 contract with the Washington Wizards, is one of the best rebounding guards to play college basketball to recent memory.

2021 Las Vegas Summer League - Sacramento Kings v Washington Wizards
Jordan Goodwin playing Summer League for the Wizards
Photo by David Dow/NBAE via Getty Images

The first rule of Summer League is to not overreact about Summer League. So to anyone writing this Wizards’ team off after one loss, I would suggest you take a big, deep breath and consider all of the other factors they’ve had working against the team.

Most fans are probably aware their first game was indefinitely postponed but may not understand the impact that really had on the players. To better shed some light on that and the overall Summer League experience, Larry Hughes and I were joined on the Bleav in Wizards podcast by Wizards’ guard Jordan Goodwin.

Goodwin is a rookie out of St. Louis University, which is also Hughes’ alma mater, where he averaged 14.5 points, 10.1 rebounds, 3.9 assists, and 2 steals during his senior year. Goodwin is a big, physical guard who can play the 1 or the 2. He likely went undrafted due to his age and questions about his perimeter shooting (he shot 31.4% from 3 as a senior) but I would expect to see him on an NBA roster long term.

Goodwin was able to explain what their COVID protocol-induced layoff was like for players and how it put he and his teammates at a serious competitive disadvantage. He recorded 12 points, 8 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 steals and 2 turnovers in the teams’ 89-75 loss to the Sacramento Kings on Tuesday night.

2021 Las Vegas Summer League - Sacramento Kings v Washington Wizards
Jordan Goodwin playing defense during Summer League
Photo by David Dow/NBAE via Getty Images

Unfortunately, he shot 3-13 from the floor and I asked if nerves had anything to do with it. Goodwin believed that his shooting and the teams’ overall turnover count (21 total turnovers) were due in large part to their COVID protocol hiatus.

“I honestly think it’s just being in the room for two days,” said Goodwin. “It might not sound that big, just two days, but once you’re doing something everyday, you kind of get used to it. Not having that access to a gym just threw my rhythm off a little bit.”

Not only did that limit their practice time, it prevented them from playing their first game altogether. The Sacramento Kings had already played once during the Vegas Summer League, plus an additional two games in the California Classic. When asking new players to mesh and come together for the first time, those extra games provide a distinct advantage.

“I think it just gave them a little leg up, just being familiar playing with new guys in a short time period,” said Goodwin of the Kings’ situation compared to the Wizards’. “But also coming out of two days of quarantine, just going and picking the ball up right away puts you out of rhythm. I just feel like that was us last night a little bit, we’re just out of rhythm, couldn’t get anything going. And also being our first time playing with each other so we’re still trying to understand guys and things like that, where they like the ball in certain situations.”

Goodwin summarized their struggles by saying, “I just think it was a mixture of them being together and we just couldn’t sustain our energy after being out for two days and also our first time playing together so just being a little out of rhythm.”

2021 Las Vegas Summer League - Sacramento Kings v Washington Wizards
Corey Kispert attacks the basket in his first Summer League game
Photo by David Dow/NBAE via Getty Images

I asked Goodwin about the teams’ turnovers and if that was a product of their quarantine as well. He thought it was certainly a factor and seemed optimistic they would be able to work that out for game two.

“I think it’s just part of getting our rhythm back,” explained Goodwin. “And now we’ve got a game under our belt playing with each other so I think we understand where guys are going to be at and who wants the ball where a little bit more. More than we did the first game. I think just controlling our pace. I think we got a little sped up towards the end when they went on that huge run. I think our rhythm will get back and we’ll be okay by next game.”

Goodwin also raved about the high level of character of his teammates.

“Fortunately, I’m with a group of good guys,” said Goodwin. “All of them good guys, especially the older guys that have been around the NBA or G League like that. They’ve been doing a great job of just showing me little teaching points to try to make me understand the pro game better.”

Goodwin also offered some unique insight into Wes Unseld Jr.’s role with the Summer League team and what Corey Kispert is like as a teammate. For that part of the conversation, make sure to check out the full episode wherever you get your podcasts!

Episode breakdown:

Jordan Goodwin on the first Summer League game - 3:00

What it’s like to play in his first NBA game - 5:00

NBA player he’s most excited to play with or against - 6:00

First question he had for Bradley Beal - 7:00

His relationship with Beal - 8:00

Larry Hughes, Beal, Goodwin all playing for the same AAU program - 9:00

What led him to Washington as an undrafted free agent - 10:00

What he needs to do to make it in the NBA - 11:00

Lack of rhythm due to quarantine - 12:00

Wes Unseld Jr.’s interactions with the SL team - 14:00

High character teammates - 17:00

His elite rebounding - 21:00

His positional versatility - 23:00

Studying Jrue Holiday and Marcus Smart - 24:00

The physicality of the NBA compared to college - 25:00

What Corey Kispert is like on and off the court - 26:00

Letting the game come to him - 28:00

Are they running the Wizards’ eventual offense? - 30:00

Who is the leader? - 31:00

What should fans know about Jordan Goodwin? - 32:00

Hughes’ opinion on how much we should read into SL games? - 34:00

Hughes’ thoughts on the Dinwiddie contract and unique bonuses - 37:00

The Wizards’ depth - 40:00

Vegas putting the O/U on Wizards’ wins at 34.5 - 43:00

Coaches establishing roles and responsibilities on Day One 45:00

Untold: Malice at the Palace documentary on Netflix - 48:00