COMMENTARY | When the final horn sounded in the Phoenix Suns' 130-89 drubbing of visiting Maccabi Haifa, a few things became very clear.
First, Eric Bledsoe is as good as advertised. Secondly, although he's still very raw, Archie Goodwin's star will shine bright someday.
Bledsoe was clearly the best player on the court and after shaking off a few bits of rust during the early stages of the game, he showed how he can impact the game on both ends of the court.
His defensive awareness and ability to wreak havoc on the ball-handler was a main focal point, as Maccabi turned the ball over 23 times, including five steals for Bledsoe (and five for P.J. Tucker).
On the offensive end, Bledsoe was electric in transition. The Suns scored 49 points in transition and were just too fast for the sluggish Maccabi group. Creating turnovers that led to fastbreaks will be the Suns' bread and butter this season, so this was a terrific preview of what's to come.
Bledsoe finished the night with 22 points, three rebounds, four assists and five steals in just 21 minutes of action. It bears noting that the competition wasn't up to NBA standards, but that's still an impressive stat line.
Goodwin may be the most athletically gifted player on the court based on his speed and ability to rise at the basket. He started the game a bit slowly, including putting up some ill-advised jumpers early in the game. Once head coach Jeff Hornacek (who I've written about being a terrific fit) got him to go to the basket, the game changed for him.
At the end of the day, Goodwin shot 5-for-8, scoring 13 points with three rebounds, one assist and a steal. When he got into open space against Maccabi, he looked like he was floating across the court. Once he got to the rim and elevated, the smallish Maccabi squad had no answers.
If Goodwin continues pushing the ball and getting to the rim, only good things will happen. He did force a drive baseline that resulted in an ugly attempt, but we can chalk that one up to growing pains. Coach Hornacek was there to tell Goodwin that he could have had the pull-up jumper when his opponent got off balance.
That kind of raw talent needs coaching and experience to realize his true potential. We'll see glimpses from time to time, but temper your expectations for now. Even though Goodwin had a solid game, it wasn't without some head-scratchers.
Defensively, Goodwin looked lost. He was often seen looking around as if it was the first time he had played with this group of guys. His athleticism will allow him to compete, but everyone in the NBA is athletic. He'll need to become more focused on the defensive end.
Speaking of focus, Goodwin did also show signs of his age (19). After missing badly at the basket, he chose to sulk and stare at the official instead of getting back on defense. To be fair, he did step up his game after that, but this was in a game where they were blowing the other team out.
I appreciate his enthusiasm, but his teammates would appreciate some help back on the other end of the court. He'll get it eventually, but expect more moments like this. Between Bledsoe, Goodwin and Goran Dragic, this is going to be one fun ride.
Michael Dunlap is an NBA credentialed writer who covers the Phoenix Suns, Arizona Diamondbacks and Arizona Cardinals on the Yahoo Contributor Network. He is also the Founder and Editor-in-Chief for the NBA site HoopsHabit.com.
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