All season people have talked about the depth of this Washington Huskies team, particularly around the perimeter.
Well, Abdul Gaddy's season-ending injury will test that depth a little bit. As Don Ruiz of the Tacoma News Tribune described, the team has typically relied on a three guard rotation in handling the ball with Gaddy, senior Venoy Overton, and junior Isaiah Thomas trading off ball handling duties. But ccoach Lorenzo Romar has a few options with which to replace the sophomore, as described by Scott Johnson of the Kitsap Sun.
Huskies Lose Gaddy for Season " Kitsap Sun
The Huskies aren’t feeling sorry for themselves despite the injury, partly because they’re one of the deepest teams in the country. Sixth man Venoy Overton, a senior, is an experienced point guard who has started 35 times in his 104 games at UW. It’s just as likely that the Huskies could turn to off-guard Isaiah Thomas to handle point duties — UW’s leading scorer at 15.5 points per game is also the team’s leader in assists, with 55 and only 30 turnovers — while adding a wing player like Scott Suggs, C.J. Wilcox or freshman Terrence Ross to the starting lineup.
To this point, Romar has not announced who the starter will be and Kevin Pelton of Basketball Prospectus suggests that the biggest change might be in how Isaiah Thomas plays next to the new backcourt mate in the starting lineup.
Basketball Prospectus | Unfiltered
The bigger change for the Huskies will be Isaiah Thomas playing regular minutes at point guard. Though Thomas is a candidate for the Cousy Award, he has almost exclusively played the two. But Thomas has improved his playmaking this season–his assist rate has improved from 19.5 to 23.3, not far behind Gaddy (24.8) and Overton (25.1)–and Washington is often more difficult to guard with Thomas at the point because that means putting another shooter on the floor. In Scott Suggs, Terrence Ross and C.J. Wilcox, the Huskies have three reserve wings worthy of being part of the rotation. Suggs and Wilcox boast True Shooting Percentages above 60 percent, while Ross has been prolific at average efficiency.
However, moreso than the positional designation, what the team will miss most in Gaddy is a complement for Thomas in the backcourt who is both an efficient ball handler and scorer. So replacing Gaddy in the lineup with the current personnel will involve a tradeoff of sorts.
While Suggs and Wilcox have been extremely efficient shooters this season as Pelton notes, only Wilcox approaches numbers as a distributer that approach Overton's and he still falls short. Conversely, while Overton has been outstanding as a defender and distributor this season, he hasn't been quite as efficient as a scorer with a true shooting percentage under 50%.
The threat that Gaddy offered the team offensively was a guy next to Thomas that could truly play off of him as either a scorer or distributor depending on the situation. As of right now, they will not be able to replace that in the lineup and the challenge will be finding a combination that works best not only with that starting five, but also to maintain an effective rotation.
Overton probably strikes most people as the obvious choice based on seniority and his current role on the team, but there's a case to be made for any one of those other guys.