If I were a betting man, I would say Raul Neto has played his last game in a Washington Wizards uniform. There’s been reporting that Tomas Satoransky could be done with the NBA. And Tommy Sheppard could opt not to fully guarantee Ish Smith’s deal for next year (he has until July 1st to decide). It seems likely the Wizards will need at least one more backup point guard.
Several playoff teams have seen success bringing a young, energetic point-of-attack defender off the bench. I think the Wizards would be wise to follow the model of teams like the Grizzlies and Pelicans and try to find their own perimeter pest.
Jordan Goodwin, who spent his first year as a professional basketball player with the Capital City Go-Go, joined me on the Bleav in Wizards podcast this week. Goodwin also had a 10-day contract with the Wizards this season but the majority of his production came at the G League level. He was very insightful in this interview and just hearing about his mindset and desire to be a high-level defender left me hoping Sheppard and company give him a real chance to make next year’s team.
Goodwin explained how the Go-Go follows the same defensive philosophies as the Wizards. That should afford him a more seamless transition than someone completely new to the organization. He said the primary difference is that the Go-Go applies more full-court pressure (about 15:00 minutes into the interview) than the Wizards.
Seeing the success Jose Alvarado had disrupting the Suns offensive by applying full-court pressure, I would actually welcome the Wizards incorporating more of that into their arsenal. Typically, a strategy like that needs a young, quick, athletic player to execute.
The 23-year-old is the type of high-level athlete who could make life miserable on opposing point guards by picking up 94 feet. Many of us have complained about watching opposing players shoot over our relatively short backup guards. That would not be an issue with the 6-3 Goodwin.
We always hear that defense is about effort and “want-to” and it’s clear from talking to him that he certainly wants that opportunity. When was the last time a Wizards guard emphasized their desire to defend...and actually meant it?
Goodwin was the offensive catalyst for the Go-Go this season and at times his efficiency and shooting percentages suffered because of it. During our conversation, he seemed extremely confident he could come in and be effective as a 3-and-D guard. He specifically referenced his three-point shooting percentages being higher from the corners. I think operating in a simplified offensive role would allow him to better show the strides he’s made as a shooter in the last year.
His calling card is his versatility and that could also make him a valuable addition for Wizards’ head coach Wes Unseld Jr. Goodwin can play on or off the ball, he’s one of the best guard rebounders I’ve ever seen, he can slash, he can shoot (especially when someone else can help create some easy looks for him), and he defends.
When I asked Goodwin about where he saw himself in 5 years he said as a valuable role player. He’s realistic, humble and won’t be the type to complain about how many shots he gets. He also mentioned having a good relationship with Bradley Beal (they’re both from St. Louis), Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, and Kyle Kuzma, which should help him fit in quickly.
Beyond his long-term growth potential, Goodwin offers two other things Sheppard has seemed to value: character and continuity. Having interviewed him several times now, it’s obvious that Goodwin is the type of high-character person the Wizards have prioritized. As he explains in the interview, the Go-Go and Wizards share the same practice facility and Unseld Jr., Sheppard, and Wizards’ players already have a lot of familiarity with him.
One of the things I like most is that Goodwin seems to play his best when it matters most. In the Go-Go’s two playoff games, he averaged 30.5 points, 5.5 rebounds, 8 assists, and 2 steals while playing 40 minutes per game. He’s reliable in terms of production and availability. Goodwin managed to play in every game for the Go-Go this season, which would be asset for a Wizards’ team that’s battled through injuries the last few seasons.
Given the Wizards’ salary constraints, Goodwin would also be an affordable option who not only has the ability to contribute right away but also has plenty of room to continue to improve. Using one of their two-way contracts on Goodwin would make a lot of sense.