The early returns are in on Isaiah Thomas' decision to forgo his senior year at UW and enter the NBA draft. Shitty move by Isaiah, and shitty for the Huskies' 2011-2012 fortunes, say the likes of KJR's Mitch Levy and the Times' Steve Kelley. Allow me to be the voice of dissent here.
To which I say: (1) Coming back from his senior year will not suddenly cause him to grow six inches. (2) With a healthy Abdul Gaddy and frosh wunderkind Tony Wroten manning the point next year, there will be zero opportunity for him to be the primary ballhandler; and besides, with Gaddy out this year, he more or less proved he could run a team. (3) Allen Iverson, whose fearless physicality mirrored Thomas', didn't let his streaky shot get in the way of an elite NBA career. Factor in the most mediocre draft pool since Kenyon Martin went #1, and Thomas' move looks pretty justifiable to us, especially considering he's yet to hire an agent--which means he can crawl back to Hec Ed if pre-draft camps don't go so swimmingly.
But what about the team he leaves behind? Common wisdom has it that the Huskies will likely enter the season without a discernible go-to guy. To that end, the defense calls Terrence "The Boss" Ross to the stand. Inconsistent as he was his freshman year, The Boss boasts the ideal primary scorer's skill set: He can beat his man off the dribble and get to the rim. He can spot up from three. And, most important, he lacks a conscience.
Should The Boss falter at times, Wroten, C.J. Wilcox, Scott Suggs, Gaddy, and Darnell Gant are all capable of stepping up. But where Thomas' absence really excites us is on the defensive end of the floor, where his size made him a perennial liability. Without him, the Huskies are universally long, quick, and athletic, with seven-footer Aziz N'Diaye stationed by the rim to clean up any messes.
Ultimately, the key to whether the Dawgs are able to overcome Thomas' departure is Wroten. Before he missed an entire season after hurting his knee playing football at Garfield, he was regarded as the top national prospect in his class. Post-injury, whereas Gaddy came to UW with inflated expectations, Wroten comes in under the radar relative to all the heat he generated as a 14-year-old. Thomas' return would have given Coach Lorenzo Romar the luxury of easing Wroten into the rotation at a leisurely pace. But this kid's a greyhound, and we can't wait to see him run from the starting gun.