After months of speculation, the Orlando Magic moved the franchise ahead by selecting forward, Jonathan Isaac from Florida State University.
“I think I’m super versatile. I can do so many things on the floor. I’m at a high level and I cant wait to increase that level.”
Jonathan Issac feels he has another level he can reach. The Orlando Magic agree.
The Orlando Magic, had not revealed any draft intentions leading up to Thursday night’s selection of Jonathan Isaac but the team is confident he will be the difference maker to help the Magic now and in the future.
Weltman: "Part of Jonathan's appeal is he'll be able to be a multi-positional player. He rebounds like a 4. He handles the ball like a 3."
— Josh Robbins (@JoshuaBRobbins) June 23, 2017
While playing at FSU, Issac averaged 12 ppg, 8 rpg, 1.5 bpg, and 1.2 spg while shooting nearly 65 fg%. The Magic needed a two-way impact player and Issac appears to fit the bill.
General Manager John Hammond and Team President Jeff Weltman hinted that they love a guy who has length and makes their teammates better on the floor. A player who genuinely seeks to help the team play better. They got exactly that in Jonathan Issac.
When asked about what he brings to the team and his defensive versatility, Issac commented:
“I think I fit in great. I bring size, I can rebound and block shots, and do a lot of things other than offense”
Issac feels as if his defense is his best asset as of now. He believes he can easily switch on to guards in pick and rolls and make plays against smaller guards.
“I definitely pride myself on that [defense]. When I switch a screen and I get a smaller guy and he tries to go by me, I really take pride in shutting him down.”
The Magic will call on Issac to do just that. He is projected as a small forward but could float between the power forward and center positions as well. Standing 6’10, Issac has the ability to become a nightmare match up on both sides of the ball. He possesses arguably the quickest feet in the draft. He has a standing reach of 7’1, which help him cover space on the floor very quickly. His high motor helps him chase down loose balls and grab offensive rebounds for second chance opportunities.
On offense, Jonathan Issac has proved he can convert on baseline jumpers, sort of Kevin Garnett-esque or Durant-ish, depending on the era of comparison. He has a solid three-point shot averaging 35% last year for the Seminoles.
When asked about his pro comparison to Kevin Durant, Issac quickly accepted the comparison to his childhood NBA superstar and its easy to see the comparisons.
“Kevin Durant has been my inspiration coming up and a guy that I’ve looked up to to steal moves and things like that”
To live up to those lofty expectations, Jonathan Issac will need to develop a bit on the offense side by tightening his ball handling and improving his isolation scoring. What shouldn’t be assumed is that Issac is not ready to contribute at the pro level immediately. As a project player, his length and natural skills will enable him to see effective minutes on the court. He is aware of what critics speak negatively about him at the moment, his weight and strength, and seems ready to make strides in those departments. When asked about what he has heard about himself after being selecting number six in Thursday night’s draft, Issac immediately had a response.
“My size. I definitely got to get stronger. You know? That’s the first thing I have to focus on. I’m going to gain weight. That comes with time, but I definitely got to get stronger.”
As of now, Issac does not project as a starter for the team but that could change between now and the start of the season. Even if he does not find his way to the starting lineup, Issac projects to find stardom at some point with the Magic. ESPN lead basketball analyst Tim Legler believes Issac will tap into his full potential very soon.
“Jonathan Isaac, to me, could ultimately be the biggest wildcard in this (draft class),’’ Legler said. “When I watch him play, offensively, with the length and the 9-foot, 2-inch standing reach and his ability to handle like a guard, take off and do things defensively with length …
“Most importantly, his footwork is so advanced for a guy that height and that age,’’ Legler continued. “His jab-step stuff and his ability to attack you – one or two either direction – is really special.’’
Legler made a strong comment about Isaac’s shooting ability as well.
“He gets (his jump shot) off,’’ Legler said. “He’s not like a great NBA 3-point shooter, but he’s a very good college shooter, which will translate into becoming a great NBA shooter. Could be the best offensive player in the whole group and he went sixth.’’
If the Magic got this pick right, Issac could transform the team sooner rather than later. He can do things that no other incoming player can do and that was worth the risk to a franchise that is starving to find a franchise player. The rewards far outweigh the risks and that is a chance the Magic needed to take.