BOSTON – When the Boston Celtics traded the top overall pick to go back a couple spots, you knew the pool of players under consideration might expand a bit.
But in talking with league executives and scouts the past couple of weeks, the name that has come up consistently besides Kansas’ Josh Jackson and Duke’s Jayson Tatum, is Jonathan Isaac of Florida State.
In this pick-and-roll, switch-everything world of the NBA, Isaac has a lot of what teams are looking for defensively.
The 6-foot-11 forward has a 7-foot-1 ¼ wingspan with a reach that’s on the north side of 9-feet.
Tall and long, a great cocktail for any team to drink up whose foundation is built on defense.
That kind of length despite his lithe frame, gives him a chance defensively against a lot of big men.
And because of his exceptional footwork defensively, he doesn’t get smoked as bad as some big men do when switched out defensively against a guard.
It is rare for a player to come into the NBA with the ability to adequately defend four different positions when they are on the floor.
“I hear some of you media guys talk about him like a poor man’s Kevin Durant. That’s not him,” a league executive told CSNNE.com about Isaac. “Kevin’s a scoring assassin; Jonathan isn’t. He’s not that aggressive offensively, but defensively? He’s good with the potential to be great. Think Amir Johnson but longer, more athletic and with a better handle and more overall upside.”
The biggest knock on Isaac is his weight which at Florida State was “up” to 210 pounds from high school.
“The known thing with me is I have to gain weight, right?” Isaac said. “I’m not looking to gain weight the wrong way. I’m looking to get stronger.”
Indeed, the positives with Isaac’s game at the very least make him worth considering with the No. 3 pick.
“I bring size,” Isaac said. “That’s something they do need. I bring defense, I bring versatility on offense and being able to fit in any situation at any spot and make an impact.”
Isaac understands that his versatility at both ends of the floor is what teams like about his game translating well at the next level.
The 19-year-old said he has worked out for three teams – Boston (No. 3 now; No. 1 at the time of the workout); Philadelphia (No. 1 now; No. 3 at the time of the workout); and Phoenix (No. 4).
“It went really well,” Isaac said of his first workout which was with Boston. “I shot the ball really well. I did a lot of great things. They really liked me.”
We’ll find out just how much 24 hours from now when the Celtics are on the clock with the No. 3 pick.
While Isaac was confident in his workout with the Celtics, he says he’s also in the dark as to what Boston’s plans are for Thursday night.
“I’m just like you; I have no idea,” Isaac told reporters on Wednesday. “If they do call me, I would be extremely grateful but I have no clue (who they will draft).”
And if he is selected by the Celtics, he knows joining a team that’s on the rise like Boston will mean stiff competition for playing time.
“That’s basketball,” he said. “That’s a situation I want to be in.”
In his lone season at Florida State, Isaac led the Seminoles to the NCAA Tournament after a four-year absence. He averaged 12.0 points, 7.8 rebounds, 1.2 assists, 1.2 steals and 1.5 blocks per game while shooting 34.8 percent from 3-point range.