Analyzing Jonathan Isaac’s fit with the Orlando Magic

Jonathan Isaac was selected by the Orlando Magic with the sixth pick in the 2017 NBA Draft. He becomes the second-highest Seminole to ever be drafted, only trailing Dave Cowens, who was selected by the Boston Celtics with the fourth pick in 1970.

The 6’10” forward will now head down south to Orlando. He’ll join a team that is attempting to rebuild around players such as Evan Fournier, Aaron Gordon, Elfrid Payton, Mario Hezonja, and Nikola Vucevic. The Magic only won 29 games last season, and the franchise has dealt with the mucks of the lottery since they traded Dwight Howard in 2012.

Orlando is clearly in the midst of trying to develop their young talent, but Isaac does potentially have a few players ahead of him on the depth chart. At his size, the Magic will likely try to play him at small forward, power forward, and occasionally as a small ball center. Terrence Ross started the final 24 games for Orlando at small forward in 2017 after he was acquired from the Toronto Raptors. Gordon started 72 games at power forward during his third season in the NBA. Hezonja, Bismack Biyombo, and Jeff Green were the main contributors off the bench at the three and four spots for the Magic.

The Magic will have to decide how fast they want to bring Isaac along. It is clear that he still needs developing, especially with his body. Isaac needs to put on good weight and muscle to fill out his lanky frame. One of the big question marks with him as a prospect is if he’ll be able to put on that weight and still be successful. He’s likely to be pushed around a bit as a rookie with his small stature, but his frame has tremendous potential. Isaac can provide contributions on the boards and defense in his first year. If he can find his shot, he’ll be a mismatch nightmare for most of the forwards in the league.

The key to Isaac having a successful career is all in his body and offense. If he can add the weight and muscle while also developing his all around offense, he could become something special.

Isaac needs to improve his handle, but his shot is already good enough for him to be a threat to stretch defenses. Orlando may try to implement simple plays like this to get him easy looks in spots where he’s comfortable. Isaac pops off a screen and then uses a euro step to create space for a jumper he is confident in. On the next play, Isaac nails a spot up triple in rhythm while being fouled. His range is legit, but his stroke needs to become more consistent.

His play throughout summer league, training camp, and the preseason will determine Isaac’s role during his rookie season. If he struggles, the coaches may look to bring him along more slowly. Which means he’ll get less minutes with the main club as a rookie but could see time in the G-League. The Magic are already a team that will probably struggle again in 2017, so Isaac could play himself into a bigger role as the season progresses. If he shows signs of development in his minutes with the Magic or G-League, the team could look to give him a larger opportunity.

Jonathan Isaac is the type of player you take when you’re thinking about the next five years. He isn’t going to come out and light up the NBA during his first season, but he’s going to gradually progress and learn. His basketball skills will continue to grow as he battles against the best of the best every night in the league. Isaac has the type of ability to be a star if he pans out, which is never a certain possibility. Still, Orlando has to be pleased with the exceptional talent that they’ll be able to attempt to mold.


Dustin Lewis
Lead writer for NoleGameday. Majoring in Editing, Writing, and Media at Florida State University. Staff Writer for the FSView and contributor for Celtics Hub.

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