2018-19 Off the Glass Breakout Player Series: Jonathan Isaac
  • Dalton Pence

2018-19 Off the Glass Breakout Player Series: Jonathan Isaac


Orlando Sentinel

The 2018-19 NBA season started on October 16th, but Off the Glass is still predicting each team’s breakout player. For the Orlando Magic, we will look at Jonathan Isaac.

Orlando drafted Isaac with the 6th overall pick in the 2017 NBA Draft to bolster its frontcourt playing alongside Aaron Gordon. With virtually no interest in resigning Bismack Biyombo and Nikola Vucevic, this pick was fairly easy to make. The Magic sent Biyombo to Charlotte on July 7th in a three-team trade in exchange for Timofey Mozgov. Despite the acquisition and the team using the 6th pick in the 2018 draft to select Texas big man Mo Bamba, Isaac has an opportunity to vastly improve in Orlando.

Unfortunately, the former Florida State forward did not get an effective chance to showcase his talent during his rookie season. Various foot injuries kept Isaac sidelined for 55 games during the 2017-18 campaign. In 27 games, he contributed 5.4 PPG, 3.7 RPG, 1.1 BPG, and 1.2 SPG in 19.8 minutes per contest. These statistics may not be appealing to say the least, but there is a ton to look forward to regarding the young forward.

After drafting Bamba, it seems as if Orlando is prepared to play both Gordon and Isaac at the same time in the front court. The era of positionless basketball has arrived in central Florida as both young players will spend time playing as wings and power forwards. The issue will be floor spacing; although improving his shot from behind-the-arc, Gordon is not a proficient deep threat, yet. Isaac shot 34.8% from downtown last season, but only on 1.7 attempts per contest in 27 games of action. Another aspect of improvement is field goal percentage; last season the rookie shot 37.9% from the field on 5.4 attempts per game. Jonathan will see more success if the Magic are able to spread the floor efficiently considering his craftiness in the post and around the basket is impressive.

Orlando’s front court athleticism is astonishing. Last year, Isaac showed flashes of his potential by scoring in a slew of ways: from behind-the-arc, to the midrange, the post, and, most notably, in transition. His ability to handle the ball in the open floor and attack the basket with his speed and size create a huge disadvantage for opposing teams.

Perhaps the largest effects Isaac has on games, won’t necessarily show up on the stat sheet. His defensive ability is worth noting; sporting a 6’10 frame with a 7’ wingspan, Isaac excels in on-ball defense, blocking shots and creating turnovers. His defensive presence compliments Gordon’s offensive tendencies which will bode well for the Magic this season.

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