Washington Wizards: The IT experiment has failed

The offseason signing rose question marks to begin with, and now it seems time for the Washington Wizards to call it quits on the Isaiah Thomas experiment.

When Isaiah Thomas came to the Washington Wizards over the summer, the signing became a very polarizing topic among fans. Some believed that he was washed up and with his injury history he would become a shell of his former self. Others seemed more hopeful that with a clean bill of health and an opportunity to receive more playing time, he could at least build his game back up.

Unfortunately for the Wizards, it seems like they are getting the former.

When Tommy Sheppard took over as the GM for the Wizards he preached a philosophy of youth and development and backed this theory up with the moves that he made. He drafted Rui Hachimura, signed Thomas Bryant to an affordable contract and traded for Moritz Wagner and Isaac Bonga.

All of these moves were geared towards building a team for the future with promising youngsters and guys who could come in and change the Wizards’ spotty culture. In a summer that saw a lot of pivots in the way the Wizards approach player development, one move that became a bit of an outlier was the signing of Thomas.

The 30-year-old point guard was coming off a season where he appeared in just 12 games for the Denver Nuggets, and was looking for a fresh start. From the cheap seats the signing was fairly beneficial for Thomas.

He could come to a team that was clearly in a rebuilding year and had a hole at PG. He could come in and play a fair amount of minutes, prove that he can still play, and move on to another team for a solid pay day.

For the Washington Wizards however, the signing was a little bit more convoluted. Outside of selling tickets Thomas did not really fit the archetype for which the Washington Wizards were going. An undersized point guard approaching the wrong side of 30 with injury issues and defensive limitations did not make much sense.

However, when signed I think the hope among the organization and fans was never that IT would become the All-NBA player he once was, but that he could come in and give the Wizards a nice scoring boost and some veteran leadership.

Early in the season the hopes among some fans and writers was even that he would play well enough that he may return to the Wiz next season as a scoring punch off the bench (yes, that writer was me).

Just over halfway through the season it is starting to look like a signing predicated on hope may not be working out. On the positive side Thomas has come in and shot well shooting 41% from the field and 41% from three according to Basketball Reference. Outside of that though, he has not brought a whole lot to the table.

The defensive limitations do not need to be harped on nor does the suspension in Philly. On a team that is already one of the worst defensive teams in the league, you cannot hide Thomas on the floor, which is hard to overlook though he has had some positive impacts in the locker room.

A player once known for his game speed and agility, Thomas just looks a step slower these days. The injury to his hip that has been reported to be fully healed, may have already taken its toll on Thomas’s body.

With Ish Smith playing some of the best basketball of his career it should not come as much surprise that, even though hes coming off the bench, he has received a majority of the pg minutes over the past two months. Even the fans have started to rally behind benching IT for more Ish Smith, as evident in Wiz of Awes’ most recent poll.

With a few other interesting prospects that may or may not be a part of the future plans, Thomas should only continue to see his minutes drop. Guys like Gary Payton II, Troy Brown Jr., Admiral Schofield and Isaac Bonga need to see more minutes down the stretch. In a rebuilding season that can be viewed as a tryout for some of these players, there is increasingly going to be no use for Isaiah.

It hurts to say that Isaiah has not worked out. It would have been a great story had he played at a high level. A lot of us, including myself, were hopeful that the little guy who was once referred to as “The King of the Fourth” while in Boston, could make his big comeback with the Washington Wizards.

Unfortunately for everyone involved though, his best days may be behind him. With a team looking to make strides towards a successful future, the Isaiah Thomas experiment should be just about over.

Next: 4 key questions facing the Washington Wizards at the deadline

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