By Josh Cohen Feb. 24, 2018
LAKELAND, Fla. – A few months from now when Jonathan Isaac assesses everything he learned during his rookie season and chronicles his fondest, and most appreciated, experiences, the time he spent in Lakeland with the Magic’s G League affiliate in late February will almost certainly be recollected.
While the trip was short and his playing time was constrained, Isaac trusts the two games he participated in with the Lakeland Magic will have accelerated his development and motivated him to work even harder.
Isaac wrapped up his mini G League assignment in Lakeland on Saturday against the Grand Rapids Drive, logging 18 minutes and posting eight points, three rebounds and three steals.
Similar to what we saw in Friday’s game, Isaac reminded us of why he was chosen sixth overall in last June’s draft and what makes him such a promising young talent. There was one play, in particular, that fully accentuated his potential. Early in the first quarter, a pesky and vivacious Isaac denied Grand Rapids’ primary ball handlers from getting the rock past half-court using his incredible length and instincts. What ensued was a steal and breakaway dunk from the ambitious 20-year-old.
While disappointed with his five turnovers and not being able to help Lakeland pull out a win against the Drive, Isaac understands this is just the beginning of a long and exciting journey.
“I think it’s great, just getting back into things,” Isaac said about his stay in Polk County. “I don’t take this time that I’m here for granted. I can still see I’m rusty. I missed some reads and stuff like that on defense and not being 100 percent there. Definitely will take this time for what it is.”
“I think I’m 100 percent physically, obviously not 100 percent with the reps I’ve had in terms of game reps,” he added.
What delighted the athletic and versatile big man was getting the opportunity to make some new friends. He enjoyed playing alongside other young players like himself, and he thinks the future is bright in Lakeland.
“These dudes are great guys, a great team,” he said. “I feel for them just because I know I could have done more late in that game.”
Isaac had missed 23 straight games and 40 of the last 43 contests prior to his G League stint due to an ankle injury. The plan now is for him to rejoin the parent club in Oklahoma City in time for Monday’s game against the Thunder. It’s unclear whether Isaac will be active for that game or play even if he is.
Transitioning back to the Magic, nonetheless, should be a tad easier now that he’s had this two-game run with Lakeland.
“Just reps, just reps, there’s nothing like playing,” he said. “There’s nothing like getting in game shape. I had times where I was really pushing myself even though I was tired.”