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NBA Draft Prospect: Jonathan Isaac

The 2017 NBA Draft is one of the deepest since the famous 2003 draft that gave us LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh, and Carmelo Anthony, among others. This year the household names are mostly guards, with fans and analysts falling in love with Markelle Fultz, Lonzo Ball, Malik Monk, and Josh Jackson. While these four players are top level talents and should be considered potential all-stars, many of us are missing the boat on a player who has been great all year and could turn into a star. That player is Florida State’s, Jonathan Isaac.

Jonathan Isaac doesn’t receive the praise like the four aforementioned players, but he has as much upside as any of them and is contributing across the board for the Seminoles. Measuring in at 6’10.5” with a 7’1.25” wingspan at the Nike Hoops Summit, Isaac has the size and length to defend threes and fours in the NBA and to do so at a high level. On the defensive end of the floor, Isaac moves his feet well and uses that superb length to stay with his man and that allows him to have some versatility on the court. His feet are quick enough to guard twos as well, but it’s not ideal for him to do that. His ability to switch on most pick and rolls give him even more added value in today’s NBA.

Isaac also uses his length to help himself in the post, and with the modern NBA four being a stretch four, his length is more valuable than ever. It allows him to be a good weak side defender, getting a hand on cutters and deferring drivers with his long arms. His biggest weakness on defense is his lack of strength but again, most modern fours are not particularly strong, and that should help mask his slight frame. Of course, he does need to add some strength (he’s only 205 pounds) to deal with physical threes in the NBA like LeBron and Kawhi Leonard, but he has a good frame that should allow for him to add the necessary weight. Even with his lack of strength, Isaac is rebounding the ball well, averaging 7.5 per game for the Seminoles. All things considered, Isaac has elite defensive potential, something that will always be valued in the NBA.

On offense, Isaac is just as versatile as he is defensively. As the NBA moves to more position-less basketball, he is the perfect kind of player you want to have on the floor. His previously mentioned length makes it difficult to find someone who can aptly guard him. Put a big man on him? He’ll take him off the dribble. Put a guard on him? He’ll either shoot over him from the perimeter or back him down and shoot over him. He’s a good shooter, currently shooting about 37 percent from three, with a mechanically sound stroke that translates to the free throw line (he’s shooting about 80 percent from the stripe) and should translate to the NBA. His shooting ability forces defenders to close out on him, and when they do, he can get to the hoop in a dribble or two because of his length. While he may not be Kyrie Irving with the ball in his hands, he’s got a good enough handle to take advantage of closeouts.

It’s not just his ability to score that makes Isaac so good on the offensive end. He is very active when he’s off the ball, always cutting and looking for openings in the defense to take advantage of. He often finds himself open for easy layups and dunks when attention shifts to the Seminoles’ leading scorer Dwayne Bacon. His backdoor cuts and good positioning also allow for the occasional rebound, as he’s averaging about 2 per game for Florida State. Even if Isaac isn’t hitting his shots, he’s still a threat with the ball in his hands.



Isaac is great at finding the open man and always makes the extra pass to go from a good shot to a great shot. His shortcomings on offense can be masked pretty easily. His lack of aggressiveness make it difficult to project him as a team’s primary scorer in the future, but that’s fine, as he would make a great second or third star on a championship team. Of course, if he becomes more aggressive, the sky is the limit.

Isaac’s ability to change the game on both ends of the floor make him a dynamic player in college and will make him a dynamic player in the NBA. With today’s shift in the NBA to position-less basketball with an emphasis on versatility he has the ability to be the second star on a championship team. While he does have his weaknesses, they are both fixable and don’t necessarily stand in the way of him reaching his potential. However, if he is able to add strength and gain more of a killer instinct on the offensive end of the floor, there’s no reason Isaac can’t lead a team to an NBA title. For now, I’ll pencil him in as the most underrated player in this year’s draft, and the player that teams will be kicking themselves in a few years for passing on him.

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