There is an aura of excitement in the Valley for the first time in years. A jubilant adolescent glee has stretched over the masses with promise, potential, and plenty of praise. One unique individual has caught the imagination of fans and media alike as those that love the game are swooning over this soon to be NBA rookie.
Who is causing all this excitement? None other than former University of Kentucky guard Archie Goodwin.
That feeling was there in a crowded conference room as 20-25 reporters ranging from "old enough to be Goodwin's dad" to "old enough to be his grandfather" from all avenues of media crammed together to ask the 18 year, 10 month, 4 day old kid all kinds of questions to get a feel for him.
As the youngest player in the 2013 NBA Draft Goodwin has a unique appeal and the potential every team looks for. Despite always being a little younger than his peers, Goodwin has always been one of the best talents in his class. His talent on the court is only matched by his engaging personality and award winning smile he flashes with a nonchalant motion after a question.
With the one year rule added in 2007 and the emergence of young players going to prep school it has become a rarity to have the opportunity to draft an 18 year old talented canvas that a team has the opportunity to paint on and develop into a potential work of art.
During his year at Kentucky Goodwin was criticized for immaturity, a common concept for any normal 17 year old kid.
Goodwin is every bit of what a normal teenager is like as a fresh baby faced, physically incomplete kid that wants to go out there and do what he enjoys doing. When you meet Goodwin in person it is easy to take a step back and remember that he is a teenager that is entering into the very adult world of professional sports. The difference between Goodwin and a typical teenager is that he has the potential to be a part of the future on an NBA team and has captured the imagination of a city. That is not a common occurrence for a typical teenager.
Over the past three years the Phoenix Suns have drafted in the lottery each year playing it safe rather than taking risks on high end talents. When the season ended the excitement turned to the draft in both 2011 and 2012, but when the dust settled the climax was anticlimactic. Like a Dick Wolf Ending.
Each prospect had a solid college season before their respective drafts and careers leading top programs to high seeds, tournament wins, and high profiles in the eyes of NBA executives. Markieff was the compliment to his brother with the Kansas Jayhawks while Kendall was the engine of the up-tempo, exciting North Carolina Tar Heels. They were both steady, played to their strengths, and were seen as safe; average and even tolerable picks.
After those selections there wasn't a single person ready to climb to the top of the mountain and anoint either as a franchise savior.
This year the team fell even further landing them a Top 5 pick in the 2013 NBA Draft and when they were on the clock they had the pick of some of the perceived top talents in the draft on the board. They turned to that familiar strategy though in drafting Alex Len out of Maryland.
Len has a higher ceiling than his peers, but the excitement factor is on the same level as both Morris and Marshall in the eyes of the public. Len does not bring the excitement primarily because of his position on the court, but also because of those left on the board when he was drafted. He was on the board with more high profile prospects like Nerlens Noel (No. 6), Ben McLemore (No. 7), and C.J. McCollum (No. 10) that would have been more engaging to the audience in Phoenix who were clamoring for some excitement.
In college Morris and Marshall showed talent and some potential, but both had ceilings that were visible at that level and at times were touched with an out-stretched arm.
Expectations that Goodwin is the savior and will lead the Suns to multiple Championships before all is said and done is clearly the wrong route to go. That is far-fetched for any prospect let alone the No. 29 overall pick in a "weak draft." Some are in that camp while others are simply excited to have something worth being excited about. It has been years since the last time the Suns genuinely had an exciting player on their roster with promise.
Local and National media alike are swooning on social media like Twitter to express their gratitude to the Basketball Gods for the Gift of Goodwin.
That is what social media is for. When is the last time in-depth, hard hitting, quality analysis was thrown on the platform of social media? It is a tongue-in-cheek way to connect with fans and the basketball community alike.
The excitement is justified when Goodwin is flying through the lane and finishing with agile finesse required for a perimeter player. The caveat to that is that this was at Summer League, but Goodwin did not have a Von Wafer display in the meaningless summer tournament, instead flashed the potential that captured the imaginations of talent evaluators last summer when Goodwin was a consensus lottery pick in the infantile stages of the 2013 NBA Draft process.
Attacking the rim and making plays with his raw athleticism separates him from his lottery pick peers on the roster. He is capable of independently making plays that can change momentum in a game and be a difference maker.
That is a claim that the players selected higher on this roster cannot make.
A prime example of that came in the Summer League when Goodwin perfectly executed an in-bounds play curling from one side of the paint to the other, catching a lob pass, and finished through traffic. As Goodwin goes through the motions of learning how to make the simple plays the fact that he is capable of making the spectacular plays further more emphasize the potential he has.
At times he looks like a young Monte Ellis. Other times he looks like a raw, young Kobe Bryant or Gerald Green, and the truth of his potential lies somewhere in-between.
It all started with Goodwin walking in with his fresh suit, Kentucky blue tie, and a nervous confidence that seemed fitting for an 18 year old with no expectations on him specifically, but worlds of potential that create the kind of excitement that this city and fan-base has been looking for.