Last year, Isaiah Thomas helped Justin Dentmon greatly increase his scoring by allowing J.D. to slide over to the shooting guard position. Gaddy will do the same for Thomas this season, letting Isaiah fill a role he seems to relish more than running the point.
For the next two seasons, we’ll have a deep backcourt that should stack up well against any group of guards in the country. But, with Gaddy handling the point guard duties for at least two seasons, Isaiah Thomas will need to exercise a great deal of patience in order to give himself the best chance of success at the professional level.
Thomas averaged 15.5 points and 2.6 assists last season. It’s very likely that this year, he’ll average between 18 and 20, which could lead the Pac-10 or come close. During his junior season, he’ll likely be among the very best scoring guards in the country.
Even if we take that whole Facebook posting about I.T. heading to the NBA after this season as a joke (and I do), Husky fans better buckle up for what could be two straight off-seasons of “will he/won’t he?” regarding I.T. and the jump to the Association.
But, it’s not just the Huskies of 2010/11 and 2011/12 (and their fans) that will benefit from Isaiah playing out his full eligibility. Assuming prototypical point guard Gaddy leaves UW after two strong years for the NBA, Isaiah will need his senior season to earn his bona fides as a point guard, the only position he can play at the next level.
The under six-foot set in today’s NBA is a very small group of mostly traditional point guards like Brevin Knight and Mike Conley. Aaron Brooks and Nate Robinson can put up a lot of points, but both can also run the point.
I realize that I’m taking a lot for granted here, such as assuming everyone stays healthy, and assuming Gaddy isn’t going to stay more than two seasons.
But, looking into my crystal ball, I’m seeing Thomas eventually having to make the same decision as the one faced by Anderson Hunt:
Hunt was the Most Outstanding Player of the 1990 NCAA Tournament, playing shooting guard for coach Jerry Tarkanian during UNLV’s dominant seasons in 1989-90 and 1990-91. Taller than Thomas at 6’2″, he was still too short to be an NBA two guard. After Hunt’s junior season (1990-91), starting point guard Greg Anthony graduated, and Tarkanian was poised to move Hunt over to the one spot, giving him a full season to show the league what he could do as the floor general.
Hunt heard the whispers of the people around him and chose to ignore the advice of Tarkanian and other coaches. He declared for the 1991 draft, didn’t get picked and failed to catch on with a team after a couple of tryouts. He had a mediocre career playing in Europe and goes down in history as one of the best college players never to play a minute in the NBA. (In fact, Hunt is one of only two tournament MOPs since 1954 never to play in the league.) Would his senior season at the point have made a difference? It surely wouldn’t have hurt (unless, of course, he actually got hurt).
Time will tell how loudly the siren song of the Association will sound for Isaiah Thomas after this season, and, hopefully, after next. As of now, though, he doesn’t appear on any of the 2010 or 2011 mock drafts I could find, and hopefully the whispers will remain muted until he earns his way onto lists like these.
Once he does, though, I hope he’ll take a lesson from Anderson Hunt and the other cautionary tales who’ve left school before making the best possible case for themselves to the NBA.
What do you think? Will Isaiah stay four years, or jet sooner than that? Vote below in our Montlake Madness poll.
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