By Dan Savage
It’s a risky proposition selecting Jonathan Isaac as potentially the most impactful addition to the Magic this season, especially with such valuable veterans as Jonathon Simmons, Arron Afflalo, Shelvin Mack and Marreese Speights coming aboard.
Isaac comes into the league far from a finished product, unquestionably needs to add more weight to his slender frame and will have to earn his way into the rotation by hurdling veterans who are familiar with the NBA game.
The Magic will also likely ease Isaac into action, so betting on him is going to require incremental growth from Orlando’s prized prospect over the course of the season.
“This year is going to be about bringing him along at the right pace,” Magic Head Coach Frank Vogel explained.
But with all that said, Isaac possesses a number of natural gifts, you just can’t teach.
Early on, expect his biggest impact to come on the defensive end of the floor. With his 7-foot wingspan and quick lateral movement, Isaac has the innate ability to interfere in the passing lanes, which has been evident throughout training camp. His athleticism and 6’10” stature will also allow him to reject a number of shots, building upon his 1.5 blocks per game in college.
“He looks great,” Aaron Gordon said. “First thing I noticed is just the deflections. Defensively he’s so long, he’s always in the passing lanes.”
On the other end of the floor, Isaac will likely rely on athleticism, opportunities generated in transition and putbacks to make an early impact. His ability to space the floor with 3-point range should be evident as well.
“He made some plays on both ends of the floor that get you really excited about what he’s going to be,” Vogel explained.
Isaac’s responsibilities will increase throughout the season, and as the cerebral youngster wraps his head around the pro game, he’ll continue to become even more menacing on both ends. His impact in year one is without a doubt the hardest to predict at this point, but it’s a stock worth investing in.