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The 2017 NBA Draft feels like the Lavar/Lonzo show more so than anything else but don’t be mistaken, there is elite level talent outside of the top 3. Probably more so than in recent years. This draft class is stacked with high potential prospects, but it’s hard for everyone to get the media attention they deserve. With a flurry of different NBA story lines spawning from each and every direction it might be easy to forget about some kid from Florida State, but do that at your own demise. Jonathan Isaac is the real deal.
Isaac played only one year at FSU but showed tons of potential with his play on the court and his physical attributes. The most important thing I’ve seen from watching his tape is that he has a high motor. His high effort allowed him to be solid on the defensive glass and showed great ability to switch on screens and close down on open shooters. At 6'11 with a 7'1 wingspan, Isaac is a Swiss army knife on defense. He can guard everybody from four positions, and can not only disrupt shots inside but even send a few back as well.
Offensively he shows a lot of potential as well, but leaves some to be desired. His size would lead you to believe that he would be stuck playing the 4, but he has legitimate perimeter skills. He has great foot speed, and has no trouble taking the ball up the court and isolating if he has to. He’s got the speed to blow by bigger defenders, and the size to go over the smaller ones. While his jump shot is nowhere near elite, it’s solid; and wouldn’t need a lot of work for it to become a problem for defenders.
A lot of his baskets in college came from transition, which is totally fine. In fact that’s really where he’s going to excel in the NBA especially early in his career, but there are concerns about Isaac overall. His shot selection isn’t always great. Isaac will often jab step on the perimeter and settle for a mid range jumper if he can’t find a lane. It also sheds light on his inability as a play maker. Isaac (like a lot of wings do) tends to miss open shooters if he’s already in motion.
However, as far as weaknesses go those are pretty tame. Isaac projects really well at the NBA level. His floor is low and his ceiling is sky high. I have no doubt that his shot will improve and his feel for the game will come more naturally as he develops. As far as shot selection is concerned that comes with coaching, and a different role. He was “The”guy at FSU, he won’t have to do that right away in the NBA. The great part about it though, is that he totally could turn into that. He has all the physical skills to become an offensive force in the league. His athleticism and length already put him at an advantage. All of his weaknesses are more like chinks in the armor than gaping flaws.
It seems almost comical that with how the new landscape of the NBA is playing out that teams aren’t salivating over Isaac. Porzingas, Giannis, Jokic, these Unicorns are some of the more polarizing figures and the league, and Isaac is in his own right a carbon copy. He’s the next NBA Unicorn. The NBA values three and D more than ever before, and with a 7'1 wingspan and speed to guard and play the perimeter you might see Isaac go higher than projected.
I think there are a few teams in the top eight that could really play to the strengths of a prospect of Isaac’s skill set, and a few that could spell trouble for the 19 year old. My personal dream scenario is Phoenix at number four. The Suns have such a young core but are so talented at the same time. I could see Isaac really benefiting from playing on such an athletic team, especially one that has great shooters that can open up lanes for him. He can step in and start at the three right away without having to be the focal point on offense. Valuable minutes on a young talented team could really be the perfect situation for Isaac.
A team I don’t see him really fitting well with is the Knicks. Regardless of the Animal Farm like leadership that is Knicks management, the roster isn’t really set up for Isaac to succeed in. I think Isaac can be good enough to start at either the three or four for most teams in the lottery. Those are really the only two positions the Knicks have cornerstone players at. And hell, it seems like they both want to get out of there. I don’t think Isaac (or any prospect really) would benefit from being buried in a rotation early. It might, however, be interesting to see if Melo could help develop his offensive prowess, but if that means less shots for Carmelo than it might not end well.
When it comes down to it, Isaac is too good not to find a spot for himself in the big time. He can do so many things well and has the potential to do a lot of things REALLY well. Wherever he ends up, I would suggest buying some Jonathan Isaac stock. It might be worth a lot some day.