Which Summer Addition Will Have Greatest Impact in 2017-18?
OrlandoMagic.com's Dan Savage and Josh Cohen debate which offseason acquisition will help the Magic the most in 2017-18. Stay tuned for more "Jump Ball" features throughout the season.
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.
By Josh Cohen
The Magic needed someone with innate toughness, resilience and hunger. They needed a player who has defied odds his whole life and refuses to tolerate failure.
Jonathon Simmons’ unimaginable NBA rise speaks to his value and resolve. His physical tools – athletic, agile, strong and relentless – along with his mental makeup – determined, gutsy and fierce – gives the Magic exactly what they’ve lacked in recent years.
Sure, Simmons has his shortcomings. He’s a below average 3-point shooter and sometimes plays with blinders on. However, his attitude, intensity and passion should supersede those limitations.
Once just a random G League tryout hopeful, Simmons will also give the Magic two very important tangible on-court skills. He’s very confident scoring in isolation and he’s a tenacious individual defender.
While sometimes it looks like he’s going to crash into straight-on traffic, Simmons is very crafty and excels swerving his body to avoid charges. He’s ultra-aggressive, which helps him accelerate all the way to the hoop.
Of his 184 drives that led to a shot attempt in the regular season and playoffs combined in 2016-17, 163 of them were taken near the basket. Only 21 of them resulted in a pull-up jumper. Read more about that here.
Many marveled at Simmons after his insistent defense on James Harden in the final two games of San Antonio’s series with Houston.
With Kawhi Leonard out, Simmons became the Harden-stopper. He had two crucial steals on “The Beard” in overtime of Game 5 and then helped limit the MVP runner-up to 2-of-11 shooting from the field in Game 6.
The Magic will rely on Simmons to be this stifling on a consistent basis.
“I bring defense first of all, I bring toughness, I bring the edge to this team,” he said. “I’m just here to help by any means. I’m not trying to do anything spectacular. I’m just trying to win games.”