While Justin Dentmon is putting on a shooting display that would make Ryan Appleby blush, Isaiah Thomas remains the most exciting Husky.
He can create a shot for himself whenever he wants. He gets to the free-throw line like Allen Iverson. He's a 5'8" magician, with a bottomless tophat full of spectacular rabbits.
So because basketball fans speculate about the draft like movie fans speculate about Oscars, we naturally wonder about his prospects in the NBA. To that end, we checked in with Jonathan Givony, who runs the remarkably comprehensive NBA draft and scouting site DraftExpress. Says Givony:
Isaiah is obviously a terrific college player and without a doubt one of
the best freshman in the entire country thus far. For him to become a
legit NBA prospect he'll have to develop his playmaking skills
significantly, though, since at 5-8 he is already going to be doubted by
almost all NBA decision makers already. I don't think he can make the
NBA at the shooting guard position, so he needs to spend the next few
seasons honing his ability to run a team and make others better. Working
on his perimeter shooting and becoming a much better defender would help
his chances greatly as well.
We haven't written about him yet, since
there just doesn't seem to be a great deal of urgency considering that
he can't possibly try to be one and done.
Incidentally, this is the same rap that Thomas' numbersake Nate Robinson (5'8" without shoes) got. Oregon's Aaron Brooks (5'10.5" without shoes) was also deemed too small to shoot so much. Both Robinson and Brooks are in the NBA now.
While he's a great athlete, Thomas isn't as athletic as Robinson. (Pretty much nobody is.) And, of course, he's shorter than Brooks. But his freshman numbers compare favorably to theirs--or even to their sophomore numbers, if you want to take into account the extra year Thomas spent in prep school. (Thomas' stats, Robinson's stats, Brooks' stats)
However, Givony is probably right that the NBA is at least a couple years off for Thomas. And, as we noted in our 72 predictions for Seattle sports, a four-year stay by Thomas could lead to him taking the UW scoring record from German-transplant Chris Welp. (Welp averaged 16.8, 13.0, 19.4 and 20.8 in his four years; Thomas is averaging 16.7 right now.) Of course, Thomas will probably have to choose between the two: NBA teams will want him to show he can run the point, which will mean dialing down the scoring.