On my way to Brandon Goodwin’s media availability at the Atlanta Hawks’ practice facility, I drove through Norcross — a sprawling suburb on the outskirts of downtown Atlanta. It’s a 20 minute drive from the Emory Sports Medicine Complex. It’s also where Goodwin spent a large portion of his childhood.
Goodwin and his mother moved to Norcross when he was in middle school. He described it as a risk his mother took, changing jobs and angling for a better future. He spent time at Norcross High School, where he was named the Georgia 6A Player of the Year in 2013.
Building on Past Experience
Now things have come full circle for Goodwin. He signed a two-way contract in Atlanta, making the move official Tuesday afternoon. It comes after spending time in Denver last season, playing just 57 minutes over 16 games in a Nuggets uniform.
It wasn’t lost time for Goodwin, however. He said he learned a lot being around a contender. He noted the competitive nature of practices — how even the day before a game, Denver teammates would battle hard.
Goodwin also played valuable minutes in the G-League. In 26 games between the Memphis Hustle and the Iowa Wolves, the diminutive scorer averaged 22.1 points, 6.9 rebounds, and 5.6 assists on 48.6 percent shooting. He hit 38.6 percent of his 5.9 three-point attempts per contest.
Now Goodwin is taking on a new challenge in a city he’s familiar with. While he didn’t grow up a Hawks fan, Goodwin appreciates being close to home. He has friends and family in the city. He said his mother will be able to come to games, a luxury he didn’t have when perched in the Rocky Mountains.
Talking to his agent, Goodwin had one goal this summer: to find a place that maximized his potential to play in the NBA. That place being home is an added bonus.
The Hawks are an ideal spot for Goodwin. He’s a high-octane threat, with impressive range as a pull-up shooter and notable passing chops. He also takes pride in his defense, saying it’s something he works on quite a bit. He wants to prove he can defend more than one position despite a 6-foot-2 frame.
Beyond Trae Young, the Hawks don’t have another traditional point guard on the roster. Evan Turner and Cam Reddish are expected to get reps, but that’s a risky proposition on a full-time basis. There’s room for Goodwin to carve out an NBA niche and earn a roster spot.
Battling for Backup Duties
In his conversation with the media, Goodwin also mentioned Jaylen Adams and his relationship with the former Hawks guard. Adams was able to turn a two-way contract into a role as the backup point guard last season, leaving Goodwin with a desire to “follow in his footsteps.”
He will have a chance to provide needed services on a rebuilding roster. He’ll get to do it all in front of his mother who, in Goodwin’s own words, means everything. “I want to do as much as I can to pay her back.”
As currently constructed, the Hawks are expected to spend another year in flux. Trae Young, John Collins and Kevin Heurter will all improve, but the roster as a whole regressed. Atlanta isn’t a playoff contender, which means player development is a top priority.
“I would love to be the backup point guard,” Goodwin said. No team has a void at point guard to the extent Atlanta does. And, given the precedent set by Adams last season, there’s room for Goodwin to make an impression and level up.
Here are some quotes from his first media availability.
Q: What family do you have here?
Brandon Goodwin: It’s just my mom, but I have a lot of friends. I went to high school here. We moved here in middle school, just me and her. And then, Columbia, South Carolina is not that far; it’s like 3 hours away. I think I’m as close to home as I’m ever gonna get.
Q: You and your mom seem to have a close relationship. Can you talk about your relationship?
BG: She means everything to me. It was just me and her growing up; she took care of me for as long as I can remember. It was her and my grandma when I was growing up. Her taking that risk of moving here, getting a new job — it means a lot. She risked everything for me, and I want to do as much as I can to pay her back.
Q: What did you learn being around a good young team like the Nuggets?
BG: I learned consistency, like staying in the gym. It’s not just about basketball, watching film — it’s being a professional in every way. Those guys, they took it seriously no matter what. Wins, losses, or days off, everyone was still in the gym. It was the type of atmosphere that I love to be around; competing in practice, even when you have a game the next day. Everything was taken seriously, and I have a lot of respect for those guys.
Q: Does Jaylen Adams’ situation last season — being on a two-way and getting promoted to a regular contract — give you hope?
BG: It definitely gives me hope, and I know Jaylen [Adams], so I got to talk to him some and just share in his experience; what he went through. I definitely want to follow in those footsteps [and get a full NBA contract].
Q: Is there one particular thing you’re working on this summer?
BG: I’m going to keep working on defending. That’s not something a lot of people do in their workouts, so that’s something I’ve been doing a lot of. I heard, sometimes, people don’t know if I can guard another position, or something like that, and I just want to prove that I can.
Q: Was there anything that made Atlanta stand out in free agency (beyond the hometown element)?
BG: I did [have interest from other teams], but I made sure my agent and I were on the same page; being in the best position to play in the NBA. So I probably had more interest from other teams, but I stayed focused on the Hawks because I understood — like what we talked about earlier with Jaylen [Adams] — how that effected him; being able to get that call-up. So I wanted to follow in those footsteps.
Q: What do you see as the opportunity for you in Atlanta?
BG: Well, first thing, I would love to be the backup point guard. Being able to come in and provide a spark off the bench. I think that’s what Jaylen [Adams] did a lot of, and I think I can do that same thing; honestly, just bring whatever I can to the table. I think I can do a little bit of everything.