Brandon Goodwin’s path towards etching his name into the history books of the NBA has been unorthodox and has included arguably the most eventful 80 days of his 23-year-old life.
After playing all four years of colligate basketball — two years at University of Central Florida and another two years at Florida Gulf Coast University — Goodwin did not hear his name called during the 2018 NBA Draft. He suddenly found himself without a basketball team to play for after going undrafted.
Then, he was invited to play with the Memphis Grizzlies over the summer and he participated in summer league with both of their teams in Salt Lake City and Las Vegas. He performed well enough to earn an invite to training camp with the Grizzlies which is where he remained until he was waived from their roster on September 4th.
Goodwin then landed with the Memphis Hustle of the G-Leaugue where he proceeded to tear through the competition. In his 10 games with the Hustle, Goodwin averaged 23.3 points, 5.2 rebounds, 4.3 assists, and 1.7 steals in 33.2 minutes per game while shooting 52 percent from the field and 32.8 percent from 3-point distance.
As Goodwin continued to annihilate everyone in his path in the G-League, the Denver Nuggets were simultaneously being decimated by injuries as if their roster was under some sort of curse. Denver’s injury issues became so problematic that they were awarded an injury hardship relief exception which allowed the Nuggets to sign an additional player — the 18th player on the roster including two-way contract players — because they had four or more players out for at least three games. On November 29th, Goodwin signed on with the Nuggets, but his signing came with a sizable caveat; once the Nuggets roster started to heal up and players began to return to the floor, the Nuggets would have to cut Goodwin.
Unfortunately for Goodwin, he never he got that far with the Nuggets (at first). He was waived just 11 days after being signed so that the Nuggets would be able to instead sign shooting guard Nick Young using their injury hardship relief exception. Just as fast as Goodwin arrived in Denver, he was gone, but his story in the Mile High City was not over yet.
Just six days after being waived by the Nuggets, Goodwin received yet another invitation to join the team, but this time his deal would be in the form of a two-way contract which, in turn, makes him an unquestioned NBA player for the first time in his career. Denver had opened up a spot for Goodwin by waiving DeVaughn Akoon-Purcell, who had already used up all of his 45 days as a two-way contract player.
“Life changing, of course,” Goodwin told Mile High Sports when asked what the past month has been like for him. “I am just trying to stay ready as much as possible because se you never know what is going to happen. This is a professional business so that has been my main thing. Staying focused and staying in the gym and making sure I know what is going on even if I am not playing.”
Goodwin joined the Nuggets without expectations. He did not think he would see consistent minutes or be an integral part of Michael Malone’s rotation, but to his surprise, he logged his first meaningful NBA minutes with the Nuggets on Friday night as the Nuggets managed to overcome the San Antonio Spurs by a score of 102-99.
“Like you said, I went from the G-League to playing in the first quarter of an actual NBA game,” Goodwin explained to Mile High Sports. “I am just trying to stay ready. For me, this means a lot, but I can’t get too happy. I have to just keep going and keep making steps.”
In Goodwin’s first real minutes in the National Basketball Association, all he was able to do was collect a single assist, but the moment did not look too big for the Norcross, Georgia native. He held his own on defense, kept the ball moving on offense, and actively made the Nuggets better when he was on the floor. In his short six-minute stint, the Nuggets outscored the Spurs by six points.
“Comfortable,” Goodwin told Mile High Sports when asked what he felt when he checked in during the first quarter. “I wasn’t nervous. I was just ready to play. Like I said, it is about taking steps and being ready when coach calls on me. You just never know so my main thing is just staying focused and I am going to do the right thing when I get in; make simple plays, get my teammates involved, and do everything I need to do.”
Now, after both Jamal Murray and Malik Beasley sustained ankle injuries late in the game against the Spurs, Goodwin may be called upon to pick up extended minutes for the Nuggets on the second night of a back-to-back in Phoenix. Whether or not he actually gets more minutes against the Suns, the one thing about Goodwin is that he is not straying from his path. His entire mindset is revolving around his drive to get better each and every day and doing everything he can to capitalize on the opportunity the Nuggets have given him. He wanted to absorb every last shred of information possible.
“Stay focused, make simple plays, and I have guys out there who have been doing it for a while that will help me if I need anything or do not know what is going on or just something,” Goodwin told Mile High Sports when asked about the potential of extended minutes against the Suns. “I’ll be ready and they will help me. I fit in well with these guys. I respect them and they respect me. We play with each other and we play well off of each other.”
The last couple months have been a complete whirlwind for Goodwin. In the past 80 days, he has been waived by the Grizzlies, played big minutes in the G-Leauge, was picked up by Denver on an injury hardship relief exception, scored his first NBA points, was waived by Denver shortly after, and then was brought back to Denver on a two-way contract. Now, Goodwin has picked up meaningful first-quarter minutes, could be in line to play upwards of 20 or more minutes against the Suns on Saturday night if the Nuggets have to hold out one of Beasley or Murray due to injury, and developing a friendship with former MVP candidate Isaiah Thomas
What an 80 days it has been for Goodwin.