NBA Draft Profile: Jonathan Isaac
Jonathan Isaac is one of the more interesting players in the 2017 NBA draft. He played at Florida State so he doesn’t have the household name that players from Kentucky, Duke, or UCLA possess yet he is still one of the most captivating players to watch in this draft class.
Isaac came out of high school as a 5-star recruit and was the 12th ranked player in the entire country. During his one year at Florida State, Isaac averaged 12 points and nearly 8 rebounds per game while also showing out on the defensive end, racking up a block and a half a game to pair with 1.2 steals per. Those numbers don’t jump off the screen but a lot of that can be attributed to the lineup that FSU coach Leonard Hamilton likes to run, which sees Isaac get more rest than your average potential lottery selection.
A lot of fans probably didn’t see much of Isaac until the NCAA tournament, where he immediately showed why he is such a hot name right now. In his first-ever tournament game, Isaac went for 17 and 10 while dishing out 5 assists, ripping three steals, and swatting away two shots. He put everything on display and set the wheels in motion for the NBA world to salivate over him.
This kids potential is through the roof as he has shown an ability to do it all on the basketball court. That being said, teams may have to decide where they want to put him on the court. His size leads you to believe that he would play the four but his ability to hit outside shots could see him play the three at times as well. Some have even set his NBA comparison to the level of superstars like Paul George and Kevin Durant, which is obviously extremely high praise but his skill definitely leaves that potential open.
That being said, I have broken down his game and put together some strengths and weaknesses of Jonathan Isaac as well as conducted a list of potential suitors for the young baller.
Measurables: 6’10, 209 pounds
Statistics: 12.0 PPG, 7.8 RPG, 1.5 BLK
Jonathan Isaac is exactly the type of player that every team needs in today’s NBA. He is as tall and long as a center at 6 foot 11 with a 7 foot 1 wingspan but has the ball skills and footwork of an athletic small forward. He is listed as a power forward but could absolutely play at the 3 and once he puts on a little bit of weight, he can switch to the 5 in small packages, which is becoming more of a popular style these days.
Probably the biggest strength he has is really just potential itself. He has shown great potential at both ends of the floor as he is widely regarded as one of the best, if not the best, rim protector in the draft. He can also stretch the floor and peel big men out of the paint because of his consistent outside shooting as well. He shot 35% from the three point line and was 50% from the field in his lone year in college. While he certainly has areas to improve on both offense and defense, his ceiling is probably the highest in the draft.
Having played point guard for much of his adolescence and even into high school before a gigantic growth spurt pushed him into the post, Isaac was able to work more than the average big on his ball control and driving ability. He has a solid mix of tools that he can use to get to the basket off the dribble and while it still feels like he is still getting used to his length, it's encouraging knowing that he is comfortable with his all-around skill set. From hesitation moves to crossovers, to step back mid-range jumpers, his mixture of size and skill are, dare I say, Kevin-Durant like?
While the strengths of Isaac far outweigh the weaknesses, there are certainly some areas where he can improve. The most glaring being his slender frame, which is tough to critique because he’s only 19 years old so he has a lot of time to grow into that rapid growth spurt he experienced but as a potential lottery selection, he is going to be expected to bang in the paint and finish through contact. Currently, he is listed at 210 pounds but even that is hard to believe. The good news is that once he is with an NBA team, he will have everything at his disposal to put on weight and fill out that frame.
Another weakness of Isaac’s game is his decision making at times on offense. Most of this problem could be blamed on the fact that he played point guard for most of his life. It’s mostly noticeable when you see him regularly settle for bad jump shots after attempted iso’s. Wherever he goes, he will certainly not be asked to run the offense and will likely have rare occasions in which he is working in isolation so he needs to be more decisive when the ball gets in his hands. He hesitates more than you would like a guy with a 7 foot 4 wingspan to hesitate and is frustrating at times because instead of using that length to get to the rim, he will take a bad step back or pull up from mid-range when it seems unnecessary.
Finally, his consistency was often concerning while at FSU. Isaac averaged just 12 points per game in college and while some of that can be blamed on the offense that Leonard Hamilton runs, Isaac certainly had opportunities to take over games and didn’t far too often. Saying he lacks a killer instinct seems a little harsh to say about a 19-year-old but it’s hard to argue that point when watching some of his tape. Of the 32 games he played in college, Isaac took 10 or more shots just 10 times! That is very strange considering the fact that he has been considered a potential lottery pick since he stepped onto campus in Tallahassee. Isaac proved he has the offensive skill set to succeed at the next level but he will need to gain confidence and add intensity to his mindset quickly.
Just about every mock draft you will find online has Jonathan Isaac going at #7 to the Minnesota Timberwolves but the versatility and ceiling that Isaac has makes him a potential selection for any pick between 3 and 10.
The Timberwolves absolutely make the most sense. Isaac’s defensive ability is something the Timberwolves could desperately use and pairing Isaac with KAT, Wiggins, and Lavine is just fun to think about. He could add a lot to that team and is probably the best fit for him, and an ideal selection for Minnesota.
While the Timberwolves would love for Isaac to fall into their lap, don’t be surprised if the Phoenix Suns snag Isaac up at #3. He worked out for the team recently and his outside shooting could help a team that finished second to last in the league in 3 pointers.
I mentioned earlier that many believe he has some Paul George or Kevin Durant to his game and while those may sound like gaudy comparisons, Isaac really does have the talent and potential to someday reach stardom. The only thing with Isaac is that his floor is much lower than that of George and certainly that of Durant when they were coming out of college. Of the two, Isaac draws more comparisons to Durant because they have nearly identical body styles and were well rounded players who played just one year in college. Isaac never showed the type of volume shooting that Durant did but he left enough on tape to lead you to believe that he could take over a game if given the chance. Isaac is a case where we will be able to tell relatively early what type of player he will be. Once he is drafted and he has nutritionists and strength coaches to help fill out his frame, we could see the potential that is expected sooner rather than later.