As we are just a handful of days away from the NBA Draft I’ll be breaking down the scouting reports for various players across the country who are expected to be taken in the top-10 of the 2017 NBA Draft. If there is someone specific you want on here, please let me know @barstoolreags. All videos are courtesy of Synergy and Krossover and the stats will come from Synergy, Krossover and KenPom.
Jonathan Isaac – Florida State
6’11”, 205 lbs, 19 years old
Projected: No. 6 (DraftExpress) No. 6 (NBADraft.net)
Comparison: Serge Ibaka
Background: Jonathan Isaac is starting to become the most interesting top-10 prospect in this year’s draft. He just announced he’s not going to work out for teams picking below No. 4, which means a couple things. First, he’s trying to show he’s an ‘elite’ prospect and in the same tier with guys like Lonzo Ball, Josh Jackson, De’Aaron Fox and Jayson Tatum (which he is). It could also mean he has as a guarantee, but as we tend to find out with these things that’s usually smoke and mirrors. In terms of his game, he’s going to get compared to Kevin Durant and Brandon Ingram, because that’s what tall, long, skinny dudes who can shoot get compared to. He’s not that though. He’s an excellent defender (more on that later) that played in a system at Florida State that didn’t really let him truly break out. He played somewhat of a second fiddle to Dwayne Bacon and even Xavier Rathan-Mayes while Leonard Hamilton played 10 guys. He’s absolutely one of the leading candidates of this class to be the guy people look back on and wonder how he wasn’t even better in college.
Strengths: Everyone wants to focus on his offensive skill set, but it’s his defense that is the enticing part of his game. He’s an absolute rim protector and with the move to small ball in the NBA, you could play him at the five spot if you wanted to go with a ‘death lineup’ like we’ve seen some teams do. He’s that good at protecting the rim, especially from the weakside. Watch the gif below as Steve Vasturia turns the corner. Isaac has good awareness to not follow Beachem all the way to the corner, but stay close enough to the lane to help. From there it’s all instinct and having ridiculously long arms to block the shot.
What makes him even better as a defender is his versatility though. He has a standing reach of 9′ and a wing span of 7’1″, which gives him the size to be that center in the small ball. But, he also possesses great lateral speed and the ability to stick with guards and wings on the perimeter. That showed with his steals as well, where he would use his speed to stay with the guy and then length to poke the ball free. He ranked 100th in the country in block percentage and 397th in steal percentage. Not bad for a 6’11” guy. Watch here in this video below – granted it’s against Charleston Southern – you can see Isaac’s defensive ability all wrapped into one clip. First, he has good awareness in stopping the break and then recovering. He uses his length to disrupt a couple shots and not to bite on shot fakes before tipping the pass. The other takeaway in going back and watching Isaac on defense is his positioning. He does a great job of staying in correct position which allows him to block shots and go for steals.
He’s also a strong rebounder as he averaged 7.8 per game, but when you look at rebounding percentages he was even better, especially on the defensive side. He ranked 50th in the country with a defensive rebounding percentage of 25%. On the offensive side he was noticeably lower at 7.7 percent, but still ranked in the top-500 nationally. However, when he does grab offensive rebounds he’s excellent at creating points out of it. He graded out as excellent with 1.325 points per possession on 40 putback possessions. What makes him great with that is he’s very quick with his leaping after getting the board. On top of that he’s an excellent worker that uses his size. He tries to go right back up, with either tips or dunks and you can see here against NC State just how long he is and how tough it is to box him out.
Weaknesses: The first is pretty obvious. He needs to get stronger. While his length is great, he’s still incredibly skinny and if he does get moved to the small-ball five spot he’ll get bumped out of the post with ease. On top of that one of his knocks is his ability to finish through contact in the paint. He’s an excellent jumper and when he gets going downhill off the bounce he can finish, but if he gets bumped you can tell it throws him off more than it should. He needs that strength to finish in a tougher league as you do get bumped more often. Throw in the fact he’s a strong free throw shooter and that would lead to more and-1s. He also needs to develop the mentality of being the go-to option. He got lost at Florida State as I mentioned earlier. Part of it was coaching and Hamilton’s subbing patterns as he only played 26 minutes per game. But there were plenty of occasions where you forgot he was on the court. He can get stagnant instead of going and getting the ball to make a play. He can be that guy and if a team like Orlando takes him, he needs to be that guy.
Draft Stock/Projection: I’ll be honest, I like Isaac more and more as I go back and watch him. If he stays consistent with his shot – sometimes it is a little too flat coming out of his hand – he can be that 3-and-D guy to start his career. He’s absolutely awesome on the defensive side of the ball and I’m hoping he doesn’t go to Orlando as he’ll automatically have to be the guy there. Personally, if he goes to Minnesota he’s going to slide into the perfect fit. The Wolves could move Towns to the five spot and play Isaac at the four, giving them a couple shot blockers and the ability to completely stretch you out offensively. He does need to get stronger and continue to round his game out as he relies on his length currently, but I think he’ll end up being one of the steals of the draft if he falls to No. 7.