Jonathan Isaac (6’11/205 with no official listed wingspan from this year, but has long arms) is a physical freak that projects to perform well with the rise of long, athletic forwards. Isaac is a freshman from Florida State, where he didn’t have a huge role in the offense, but played superb defense. His main tools he brings to the table include: a great physical profile, versatility, defense, and rebounding.
Here’s Jonathan Isaac’s stats from this last season (per 40 minutes):
18.3 PPG, 12 RPG, 1.8 APG, 1.8 SPG, 2.3 BPG, with 2.3 TOPG to go along with 51% shooting from the field, 34.8% from 3, 78% free throw shooting, and a TS% of 61.4%.
Quick analysis of the stats: Most of this is really good- high blocks and steals translate well to the NBA in terms of overall effectiveness. He averaged 18-12 per 40 (played 26 MPG), which to me indicates that he got a lot of 2nd chance baskets for FSU. His FT% agrees with the eye test assessment that his shot will translate well. However, the bad part is his higher turnovers per game than assists. I’ll touch on his turnover making tendencies later on.
- Frame: Finding someone as long as Isaac is not easy. He’s 6’11 with well over a 7’0 wingspan. He did not participate in the combine, so there is no official public record of his measurements. Teams do their own and record it at private workouts. He’s also really athletic. A guy with his athleticism and frame is not easy to come by.
- Defense: Isaac can defend virtually any position, except physical 5’s right now. He is a very capable defender on the perimeter, thanks to footwork, foot speed, and length. He also is the best help-side defender in this draft class. Most of his blocks came on both strong and weak side help.
- Isaac is versatile on both ends of the floor. As touched on earlier, he can defend almost any position. On offense, he can play in the paint, primarily as a second chance buckets guy or as a lob threat, but can also spot up.
- Movement off ball- Isaac moves well off ball, creating great cuts and opportunities for open 3 point shots. That is especially helpful given his size.
- Rebounding: As shown in the stats, Isaac is an excellent rebounder. Here is him boxing out Dennis Smith JR for an easy putback.
- Isaac must add weight. He’s a skinny 205 pounds and that will not be enough if he wants to be able to defend 5’s and get many second chance points.
- Ball handling: While he does show finesse in getting to the rims at times, he has a lot more sloppy ball handling turnovers than nice plays handling the ball. He used to play guard in high school, but will he be able to be a secondary or tertiary ball handler at the NBA level?
- Confidence: FSU’s coach Leonard Hamilton didn’t give Isaac much of a green light. At times, Hamilton would pressure Isaac from the sidelines to force a pass instead of letting Isaac create for himself. He also hesitates on 3 point shots often. This all led Isaac to be rather passive on offense.
Isaac has a high floor due to his tools and athleticism and where they are now. Can be a point forward, rebound, and handle the ball. Isaac closes out strong, and plus length makes his closeouts more effective. Can also protect the rim and play big if needed, as well as being able to play small. He can play 1-5 on both ends of the court. Isaac supposedly a team first attitude- which is very mature for his age. Isaac seems like a universal fit for any team. It seems hard to imagine him failing. His floor could be similar to current Moe Harkless, and ceiling can range towards Giannis or Draymond Green.
Isaac must improve his rebounding instincts to translate his excellent college rebounding statistics. Additionally, he will need to spend a lot of time on improving consistency in his 3 point shot as well as improving all around ball handling skills. Isaac is far from a finished product. Whichever team drafts Isaac must be patient with him and give him confidence. As I tweeted earlier, Isaac’s most confidence defense came after a made 3 point shot. Confidence will be a key development for his game.
NBA comparison: Isaac is hard to find a comp for, and it’s easy to use long & versatile players as instant comparisons. I like Maurice Harkless as a safe pick or a floor, as he was able to defend every position in college. He didn’t develop his jumper well, which would be Isaac’s worst case scenario. For his ceiling, he has star potential, so I’d go with a lighter Draymond Green, being able to protect the rim and defend the perimeter at high levels.
Projected draft range: Top 7