Isaac Showing Signs of Major Offensive Growth

Josh Cohen
Digital News Manager

ORLANDO – Jonathan Isaac reached the 20-point mark just once in the 102 games he appeared in prior to this season. He didn't score over 20 during that time, though, as that was his total in the one game it did happen, which was against the Pelicans last February.

Already through 13 games played this season, the 6-foot-11, 234-pounder has scored more than 20 points three times, including Saturday’s 25-point performance in Indiana.

Isaac has been getting a ton of praise for what he’s been doing on defense, which is understandable with how good it’s been, but the 22-year-old’s development on the other end of the floor deserves recognition, too.

Not only is he knocking down spot-up 3-pointers, which was the way he most frequently scored last season, Isaac has been able to display his expanded offensive versatility in the early portion of this season. His footwork and balance has significantly improved, allowing him to get to his sweet spots and create enough space before attempting shots.

Something else he has done regularly is intercept passes and accelerate the other way for easy transition baskets. In fact, Orlando’s first bucket of Saturday’s game was an Isaac steal and breakaway layup.

With his length, the Bronx, N.Y. native rarely has trouble shooting over defenders. If he’s able to consistently hit fade-away jumpers as his repertoire evolves, it will be close to impossible for opponents to truly contest his shots.

Flying in for offensive rebounds and scoring off putbacks is another way he has been collecting his points, as has been scoring off cuts.

More important than his numbers, though, is how smart he is. He has an incredibly high basketball IQ. Don’t be surprised if his assist totals begin to rise as he continues to sharpen his skills and read the game better.

When he was chosen sixth overall in the 2017 draft, everyone said Isaac was a long-term project. There would be gradual progression, so patience was necessary. In his third year now, we are seeing why he was taken as high in the draft as he was. An argument could be made, in fact, that he should have been picked even higher now that there is enough of a sample size to compare him to his peers. Fortunately for the Magic, he was available at No. 6.