Magic’s Jonathan Isaac won’t be distracted by his own strides, yearns for more
Jonathan Isaac is finally beginning to look the part of a high lottery pick. Despite flashing his sky-high potential on a far more consistent basis than ever before, though, the Orlando Magic forward still believes he’s only just scratching the surface. Asked by reporter Keith Smith if it’s all coming together at the end of his sophomore season, Isaac answered definitively in the negative.
“No. No I do not,” he said. “I’m understanding things better, but I have a long way to go.”
Isaac was a major factor in the Magic’s come-from-behind 103-96 win over the Golden State Warriors on Thursday night. He had 12 points and four rebounds off the bench, going 6-of-8 from the field while defending multiple positions on the floor and mucking up Golden State’s vaunted half-court attack as a help defender.
Isaac wasn’t on the floor in crunch time, though, replaced by sharp-shooting reserve Terrence Ross to provide Orlando with more offensive punch. His influence on Thursday’s game, strange as it sounds, might have been even bigger had Kevin Durant not been sitting out to rest. At 6-foot-10, the 21 year old is one of the few players in basketball with the requisite combination of length, quickness, coordination, and instincts to make life hard on the two-time defending Finals MVP.
Both now and going forward, defense is where Issac will make his most significant mark. He has All-NBA potential on that side of the ball as a switch-proof defender who can both protect the rim and play passing lanes. Even marginal steps forward offensively, like he’s clearly taken in February, are a minor cause for celebration – not that Isaac will be the one doing it, of course.