Prospect Profile: Jonathan Isaac

Leading up to the 2017 NBA Draft, we will be diving into what our Draft Models tell us about this year’s top prospects. Our NBA Draft Models include the PNSP Model, NBA Role Probability Model, and Similarity Scores which each provide unique ways of evaluating college prospects. Our Prospect Profiles look at which stats positively/negatively affect NBA projections, unique data points from a player’s stats, and relevant comparisons to current NBA players. You can find links to all of our Prospect Profiles in the header menu above (NBA –> NBA Draft –> Prospect Profiles). In this article, we look at Florida State product Jonathan Isaac.

Jonathan Isaac | SF/PF | Florida State | Freshman

Draft Express #6 | Model 284 PNSP #1
Physical Measurements: 6’10.5″ | 205lbs | Wingspan: 7’1.75″
Top Player Comps: Chris Bosh, TJ LeafDedric Lawson

School Age PTS/40 TRB/40 AST/40 STL/40 BLK/40
Florida State 19.7 18.3 12.0 1.8 1.8 2.3
Model 284
PNSP All-Star % Starter % Bench % Non-NBA %
97.1  46.0%  44.3%  2.3%  7.4%

Jonathan Isaac sits atop of PNSP’s 2017 draft rankings with a rating of 97.1, which ranks in the top 10 of historical PNSP predictions (last 20 years). The nearly 6’11” versatile forward ranks extremely well across all of Model 284’s Draft Models, holding the 3rd highest All-Star probability among 2017 draft prospects at 46.0%. Isaac puts himself in impressive company of players that scored higher than a 90 PNSP rating and higher than 90% probability of being an NBA Player (1 – Non-NBA Probability) as seen in the table below.

Player NBA Player % PNSP
Eddie Griffin 95.4% 96.1
Chris Bosh 95.6% 94.7
Rafael Araujo 93.9% 96.9
Sean May 96.4% 96.0
Tyrus Thomas 90.3% 94.9
Greg Oden 92.6% 94.1
Kevin Durant 93.5% 93.0
Michael Beasley 95.6% 99.4
Kevin Love 95.0% 99.1
John Wall 92.5% 97.3
DeMarcus Cousins 95.1% 96.2
Kyrie Irving 97.5% 99.7
Nerlens Noel 92.2% 95.1
Marcus Smart 94.7% 98.4
Joel Embiid 90.2% 95.0
Karl-Anthony Towns 95.5% 93.4
Ben Simmons 97.7% 91.9
Jonathan Isaac 92.6% 97.1

Especially in recent seasons, most of these players have become All-Star caliber players or at least starting caliber players in the NBA. Some (Greg Oden and Michael Beasley) had outside circumstances that hindered their ability to realize their full potential, which does not appear to be the case for Isaac.

Despite playing only 26.2 minutes per game, Isaac put up impressive numbers in all categories as a Freshman Forward at Florida State. Isaac is a deceptively good rebounder, putting up the third highest Defensive Rebounding percentage among 2017 draft prospects at 25.0%. Additionally, as Sam Vecenie pointed out in this piece, Isaac is one of five players to post greater than 25.0% defensive rebounding percentage, 6.0% block percentage, and 2.4% steal percentage. Notably, Davis and Isaac are the only two on this list to hit those marks as Freshmen.

Player DRB% BLK% STL%
Anthony Davis 25.6 13.7 2.5
Dewayne Dedmon  26.6  10.0  2.9
Aaric Murray  26.2  8.6  2.5
Andre Roberson  31.9  6.8  2.6
Jonathan Isaac 25.0 6.2 2.4

Elite production in these advanced statistical measures has been a good predictor of high-level defensive abilities in the NBA. Defense is where Isaac will make the most impact, likely in the form of weak-side rim protection and perimeter defense.

Furthermore, Isaac presents a unique combination of player comps, ranging from an elite big man in Chris Bosh to a unicorn in Kevin Durant. While Isaac certainly does not have Kevin Durant’s offensively abilities, Isaac does have the build (physical measurements), rebounding, and defensive capabilities of Durant. Additionally, having player comparisons that include a mix of wings and big men shows the uniqueness Isaac can bring to a lineup.
So, while Isaac projects exceedingly well by our models defensively, how does he project on the offensive side of the floor? Per our Models, Isaac projects above-average in shooting and playmaking, and average as a volume scorer. This contrasts common scouting perception of his offensive projection, but, with a strong free throw percentage (78%), solid 3-point shooting (35%), and solid points scored (after adjusting for minutes and pace), it becomes easy to see Isaac being a plus player offensively at the small-ball 4. Based on our projections, Isaac has the potential to be an All-Star-caliber player that contributes significantly on the both ends of the floor.

A player that provides stellar defense in addition to versatile offensive production is extremely difficult to find. It is especially unique in the small-ball 4 role, with the ability to play the 5 in these new super-small lineups. Given Isaac’s impressive statistical production, high model projection, and seamless fit into the modern NBA game, he would fit well on almost any team, and it is not tough to see him among the top names called on June 22nd. And for Wolves fans, Isaac’s projected NBA player is about as perfect of a fit next to Karl-Anthony Towns as you can find. Hint, hint: Thibs and Layden.

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