Isaac is a small-ball heavy, defensive-oriented coach's dream. Despite his slight frame, at 6' 11 with the reach of many NBA centers (9' 0.5), and the feet of a two guard, Isaac has the defensive versatility to check at least four positions, maybe even stealing some minutes at the 5 once he fills out.
The late bloomer can pick up a point guard 94 feet and make him work, chase a wing shooter around screens, keep an isolation scorer in front and finish with a hand contest, cover ground on closeouts, and rotate off the ball to protect the rim with impressive verticality. He checked everyone from Jayson Tatum to Justin Jackson to Zach LeDay this past season in the ACC, and played much tougher than his 205-pound body would suggest. In the switch-mandatory NBA, Isaac is a perfect fit, and he plays with excellent energy on the defensive gass as well - 9.3 per 40 minutes. He's active, fluid, rangy, and very willing to play whatever role he needs to for the betterment of the team.
Where Isaac's upside may be slightly limited is in his offensive aggression, or lack thereof. On paper, he's a star in the making. He can grab and go, handle it well for his size, make a spot three, get to a mid-range pull up off the bounce, attack a closeout, and make a mid-post turnaround. He showed that in a vacuum, he's physically capable of doing each of these things, which gives you hope that with a bigger role, you'll be able to rely more on each area with consistency.
There is some fool's gold in his offensive production, however. Isaac is very risk averse offensively (396 used possessions compared to Jackson's 695 and Tatum's 576), far too happy to fade into the background, defend, rebound, and take an occasional open shot. Ball-dominant players like Dwayne Bacon and Xavier Rathan-Mayes certainly didn't encourage his aggression, but Isaac has often lacked a degree of confidence you'd like to see from a potential top-five pick. He's a worker who will undoubtedly compete, but his sometimes-passive nature on the offensive end makes it hard to project him as more than a third or fourth option on a winning team.
While he can do a little bit of everything, Isaac lacks a degree of skill to play on the wing full-time, like some may project him. He stays in his lane, but doesn't have the most natural feel for the game, and isn't very advanced out of ball-screens at this stage of his career. He also still has to prove himself as a shooter from NBA range. He is a lifetime 31.7% from three and shot only 16.7% from three in March and 21.4% from three in December.
Simply put, Isaac projects more as a hyper-elite role-playing starter who can switch everything, defend the opponent's best perimeter player, protect the rim off the ball, defensive rebound, likely make enough jumpers to keep the defense honest, and play within himself in the half court. There's a ton of value in what Isaac brings to the table. He's a unique prospect and he's a perfect piece on a winning team, while fitting the modern NBA to a tee. If the team that drafts him is expecting him to get up 15-20 shots a night, score prolifically from all three levels and shine in crunch time when his team needs a bucket, they may be disappointed, however. But what Isaac brings to the table isn't easy to find, and if he's able to incrementally gain more offensive confidence with a gradual rise in responsibility, he certainly has a chance to develop into more than just an elite role starter in time.
Scouting Report by Derek Bodner. Video Analysis by Mike Schmitz
Jonathan Isaac arrived in Tallahassee with sky high expectations, a top-10 recruit expected to help turn around a Florida State team that hadn't made the NCAA tournament since 2012.
While the Seminoles faltered down the stretch, dropping five of their final ten games, including a blowout loss to Xavier in the second round of the NCAA Tournament, the team finished with 26 wins on the season, the most in the Lenoard Hamilton era. Isaac was a big part of that, stuffing the stat sheet with averages of 12.0 points, 7.8 rebounds, 1.5 blocks, 1.2 assists, and 1.2 steals per game, while starting every game.
Isaac's intrigue starts with his rare physical tools and defensive potential. Measuring just under 6'11 in shoes at last year's Nike Hoop Summit, with a 7'1" wingspan and a standing reach slightly over 9'. Isaac augments that length for a forward with athleticism you don't typically find in someone his size.
That combines to create one of the more unique defensive prospects in the draft, with the size and reach of a power forward or center, but the perimeter foot speed to switch onto guards. It's something you saw him do regularly at Florida State, where they had him switch onto, and hold his own against, point guards with a frequency that seems almost absurd for a near-6'11" prospect. He was also able to make use of those gifts to the tune of 2.2 blocks and 1.7 steals per 40 minutes, pace adjusted, showing off his ability to cover ground and the quick twitch reflexes which can make him such a versatile playmaker on that side of the court. That places Isaac with the top block rate among small forwards in our top-100 database, while also coming in the top-five in steals.
Beyond the sheer length and athleticism to chase down blocks from the weakside or force turnovers on the perimeter, Isaac also displays impressive quick foot speed on the perimeter. He does a good job of getting down in a stance and moving his feet, and has the length and quickness to recover and contest a shot if he elects to sag off his man on the perimeter. This gives him both the ability to pressure ball handlers with his length to try to force turnovers, but also the option to play back, cut off driving angles, and recover if he's at a quickness disadvantage.
While Isaac can at times get caught on misdirections and pump fakes, something that should improve with experience, that combination length, athleticism, quick feet on the perimeter, and the effort and technique to utilize them gives him real positional versatility defensively, something which coaches at the next level will likely love.
Isaac was a contributor on the glass for the Seminoles, hauling in 8.9 defensive rebounds per 40 minutes, pace adjusted, which accounted for 25% of the available defensive rebounding opportunities while he was on the court, with a consistent effort level and the physical tools needed to rebound out of his area. While not a terribly advanced ball handler, Isaac does have the ability to push the ball in transition himself from time to time, yet another way he can help improve a team's transition game. Still, his rail thin frame and lack of physicality hurts him in this regard, and he'll regularly get pushed around on the glass by bigger and stronger competition, even at the college level.
Offensively, Isaac shows some intriguing skills, but they're displayed relatively inconsistently. Most of his opportunities come off the ball at this stage, either in spot-up situations, transition, cuts to the basket, or offensive rebounds.
The most projectable skill in Isaac's offensive repertoire is as a jump shooter, where he shot 34.8% from three-point range (on 89 attempts) and 78% from the free-throw line (on 118 attempts). These numbers were higher for most of the season, but a late season slump saw him shoot just 30% from three over his final 15 appearances.
The form on his jump shot gives hope that it's a weapon he can continue to improve upon down the line, as the ball comes out of his wrist smoothly, with proper rotation and a high release point. He also seemed to get slightly better at his pre-shot preparation as the season wore on, doing a better job of stepping into the shot and speeding up his release a bit. His shot can get a little flat, which might cause some growing pains as he adapts to NBA distance, but there's nothing overtly flawed about it, which would suggest major concerns going forward.
Isaac has also shown the ability to use one or two dribbles into a pull-up jumper, which he does so under control and with good balance. His ball handling needs further refinement to really be a creator off of either isolation or pick and roll sets, but he does have enough confidence in it to use his athleticism to attack closeouts, and once he gets one or two steps and builds up steam downhill, his ability to elevate around the rim at an elite level really shines. It's also something which could become a bigger weapon for him if his perimeter shot continues to become more consistent and he continues to develop his core strength to handle contact at the rim better. Even so, Isaac shot 64.2% on half-court shots at the rim, according to Synergy Sports Technology, a number which shows both his selectivity as an offensive weapon and his ability to elevate around the basket.
The rest of Isaac's offensive game is mostly as a hustle player. His athleticism is a real weapon in transition, sometimes even pushing the ball himself after forcing a turnover or grabbing a defensive rebound, but more often filling a lane as he beats his man down the court. He moves well off the ball, leading to some impressive displays of athleticism as he gets a head of steam towards the rim, something he doesn't do quite as much of off the dribble because the ball still slows him down somewhat. He's also a hard worker on the offensive glass, pulling in 2.6 offensive rebounds per 40 minutes, pace adjusted, which he converts at a high rate because of how quickly he gets off the ground. One thing that does impact Isaac a little bit in this role is that his hands aren't very big, and he can sometimes struggle to pull in rebounds in traffic he otherwise worked his way into position for because of it.
Refining his ball handling, speeding up his release off the dribble, and adding strength to better finish inside would all go a long way towards making Isaac a more diversified offensive weapon. Perhaps the biggest hindrance to him becoming a primary offensive option for a team is his mentality, as he came off as being very passive within Florida State's offense, not being assertive enough when he found himself open and passing up open opportunities when the ball did swing his way. There would be times where a half would go by and you'd barely notice his presence on the court offensively. While that mindset a willingness to give consistent defensive effort regardless of offensive touches, not demand the ball himself, and not force bad shots could help him in a path to become a real legitimate Three-and-D option, you have to wonder if it might prevent him from unleashing his full offensive potential.
Jonathan Isaac is an interesting case. He's one of the more unique, and possibly impactful, defensive prospects in this draft, with a combination of playmaking, length, athleticism, effort, and versatility that you don't find very often. That kind of role, especially i he can make that three-point shot a consistent part of his game to spread the floor, is an incredibly valuable one for teams to fill, especially as more and more coaches want to switch anything they can on the perimeter. Isaac fits that archetype to a T.
Yet it's also possible, for as valuable as Isaac can become in that role, that you'd be left wondering whither he's reached his full potential offensively. Even so, that shouldn't cloud the value he can bring as a versatile, playmaking, unique three-and-D forward. Regardless of the concern over reaching his offensive potential, he's likely to be drafted high in the 2017 draft because of how valued his role has become, and how few projections you have to make in order to see him filling that role effectively.
Strengths -Great size and reach for a combo forward 6' 10.5 with a 7' 1.25 wingspan and 9' 0.5 standing reach. Solid base considering how thin he is up top. -Super fluid for his size. Good athlete who can play above the rim in space, especially off two feet. -Excellent feet defensively. Can get in a stance and keep the ball in front vs PnR or switch ball screens. Fairly comfortable stepping out and guarding wings. -Projectable shooting stroke. Solid mechanics. Range out to the college 3-point line. Can make a pull up jumper. -Shows flashes of aggression going to the rim. Excellent ball handler for his size. Makes an effort to mix in slight hesitations. -Improved passer. -Made an effort to get in on the glass and rebound in traffic despite his frame. Reach and quick leaping ability allow him to go up and get boards.
Weaknesses -Hasn't improved his upper body much in the last six months or so. Doesn't have a huge frame. -The game is still slowing down for him. Too anxious with the ball at times. Wastes dribbles. -Inconsistent shooting stroke. Rotation isn't always tight. Ball doesn't always come out all that smoothly. Upper body can be a bit stiff. Can improve both off the dribble and in catch and shoot situations. -Doesn't handle contact very well around the rim. Fairly right-hand dominant. -Gets posted up on defense. -Not very vocal on the floor -Very inconsistent overall.
Outlook Isaac has about as high of an upside as any player to participate in the 2016 Nike Hoop Summit. The former guard's combination of tools and skills make him very intriguing long term, although he's still a ways away from putting it all together. Isaac had both brilliant and forgettable moments in practices, and didn't have a major impact in the game fitting given the inconsistency that somewhat characterizes him as a prospect. But the IMG forward will certainly have a chance to shine at Florida State, and a strong season could very well vault him high into the draft come June of 2017.
Isaac is one of the tallest small forwards in our database and shares similar measurements to former elite high school recruit Quincy Miller who measured 6'10 in shoes with a 7'1.25 wingspan and a 219-pound frame coming out of Baylor in 2012. Like most high school players, Isaac has work to do on his frame, but he has a terrific set of tools to work with moving forward.
The evening session featured much more up and down 5-on-5 play, with 2016 Florida State signee Jonathan Isaac stealing the show. At 6-10 with a projectable jumper, impressive fluidity and explosiveness, and the ball skills of a wing, Isaac is one of the most versatile players on this USA squad.
Operating as a perimeter-oriented four man, the Bronx, New York native knocked down a handful of catch and shoot threes, displaying excellent shot preparation, balance and touch. His rotation can be a bit inconsistent overall, but he's shot the ball with extreme confidence through two sessions and continues to make great strides in that area since the first time we wrote about him in June of 2015.
Despite fairly average length (7' 0 wingspan)n Isaac was very active on the glass, leaping for rebounds in traffic and showing the ability to ignite the break. He exploded for a two-handed flush over Josh Langford in the half court, the highlight of a few athletic plays he made on the day. Having been a bit anxious as a decision maker in the past, Isaac seems more under control on the move and looks improved as a passer through two practices.
On the defensive end, he's very comfortable stepping away from the perimeter to hard hedge or switch ball screens. Isaac still has a long ways to go with his body as he's very thin up top, but he most definitely showed why he has about as much offensive upside as any player on the USA team.
Jonathan Isaac, 6-10, SF/PF, New York, Class of 2016
Strengths -Has terrific size for a small forward at 6-9 ½ in shoes. Also has a 7-foot wingspan. Big enough to see significant playing time at power forward if needed -Fluid athlete who gets off the floor quickly and has some nice explosiveness -Has beautiful shooting mechanics both with feet set and off the dribble. Has a high release point and smooth follow-throughimpressive at his size -Can create his own shot. Mixes in crossovers. Has nice footwork and a solid first step -Attacks closeouts nicely -Extremely impressive in the mid-range area. Creates separation from defender with great body control and sharp pull-ups. -Can toss in pretty floaters from difficult angles with nice touch -Shows really nice instincts blocking shots and getting in the passing lanes. 1.9 steals and 2.5 blocks per-40 at Nike EYBL (20 games) -Shows potential as a perimeter defender
Weaknesses -Does not possess a great feel for the game. Partially a product of his late-blooming status and lack of high-level experience -Not a great passer. Averaged more turnovers than assists at EYBL -Doesn't always know how to utilize athleticism in the half-court -Shot-selection can be very questionable times. Telegraphs what he wants to do -Tends to settle for very difficult shots at times. Will go through stages where he shoots it every time he touches it. -Relies very heavily on pull-up mid-range jumpers as a source of production, which is not ideal in today's basketball -Lacks the strength needed to finish around the basket through contact at times -Motor, effort level comes and go on defense. Looks very upright at times. Allows himself to get beat off the dribble -Asthmatic, which affects his conditioning significantly at times. Looked very winded with the extreme altitude in Colorado Springs
Outlook: Late-bloomer who virtually came out of nowhere this spring/summer to emerge as a consensus top-10 recruit. Struggled initially, but came on strong as the Camp moved on. Lacks a great deal in terms of experience and coaching, but has substantial talent to continue to improve. Has already made significant progress with his frame in the time he's spent at IMG Academy. Added 15 pounds from June to October according to our measurements. Seems to have a very good attitude and a strong work ethic, which bodes well for his chances of reaching his full potential. Will likely see a significant amount of playing time at the power forward position in college and the NBA, as he has extremely potent mismatch potential there. Due to the fact that he turns 19 in the 2016 calendar year, and is technically a fifth year prep player, Isaac could likely be eligible for the 2016 NBA Draft if he decided to. He told us in an interview that he is currently leaning towards honoring his commitment to Florida State, as he wants to enjoy the college experience.
Jonathan Isaac, 6-10, PF/SF, Bronx, New York, 2016 High School Class
The ultra-talented forward played only one game (15 minutes) before leaving with what appeared to be an injury. During those 15 minutes Isaac scored six points, grabbed six rebounds and showed some of his strengths and weaknesses in the process.
Having shot up a reported six inches in the past year and a half, Isaac has elite fluidity for a player his size while sporting a solid base, decent length and a thin upper body. With his blend of physical tools and skill set, Isaac is simply capable of doing things most players at his size may never be able to do.
The Bronx native looked very comfortable handling the ball, attacked in a straight line going both right and left, threw down a big tip dunk, and finished a give and go while displaying soft hands and nice touch around the rim. Isaac has a very advanced handle for his size, which can be both a blessing and a curse. The 6' 10 forward broke off plays and went into isolations several times, only to miss pull up jumpers or turn it over. He can make the simple pass but his overall feel for the game and decision-making can improve, which should come with more experience at his new height.
Although he was quite out of control at times, Isaac's aggressive nature was a pleasant surprise, especially considering his young frame and lack of bulk. From an offensive standpoint, Isaac is more of a combo forward right now, but if he continues to develop physically he'll be able to play either on the wing or operate as a face-up four who can stretch it out and put it on the deck to attack in a variety of ways.
While Isaac is extremely versatile on the offensive end, he has the tools to be very much of the same defensively while rebounding his position thanks to his size and quick leaping ability. The IMG product has tremendous footwork for a player his size, making him very comfortable defending perimeter players. He's able to get in a stance, slide side to side, and use his size and length to contest jumpers or make plays on the ball if he gets beat. Isaac is better-suited guarding threes than fours right now given the development curve of his body, but as he continues to fill out his interior defense should improve.
Isaac does have quite a ways to go in terms of defensive fundamentals, however. He reaches far too often on the perimeter and isn't very comfortable defending pick and roll as the defensive big man. Isaac can do a better job playing with a more consistent motor to help mask some of those limited fundamentals as well. Isaac has stretches where he'll jog up the floor rather than rim run, or reach on defense rather than slide with his man.
All things considered, Isaac is a big-time talent who will be able to play multiple positions at a high level on both ends of the floor, making him a very interesting prospect to continue to monitor moving forward.
Jonathan Isaac is taking a page out of Anthony Davis' book (although clearly not even in the same stratosphere as a prospect) having developed all of his perimeter skills as a guard before shooting up a reported six inches to an impressive 6' 10, with a 7' 0 wingspan. The 2016 versatile forward was one of the most intriguing long-term prospects at the Nike Academy given his combination of size, fluidity and polished offensive skills rare for a 6' 10 player.
Isaac moves around the court like a wing, allowing him to guard multiple positions on defense and attack from the perimeter on offense. Although the Bronx, NY native played mostly on the interior out of necessity, he projects as a big combo forward who can both put it on the deck and make shots from the perimeter, sporting a smooth, mechanically sound shooting stroke.
At 185 pounds, Isaac has a very thin upper body and small hands to go along with just a decent wingspan, but he does have some room to add weight on his frame, however, and actually sports a fairly solid base considering how thin he is. Isaac is far from a finished product from a physical standpoint, but he has a very advanced skill level to go along with outstanding size and fluidity, making him a unique prospect worth tracking as he continues to develop.
His academics will have to improve reportedly to become college-eligible, which is the reason he transferred to IMG Academy, where he will also receive some very high level coaching.