In each of the last two seasons, the Denver Nuggets have selected seventh in the NBA Draft. Emmanuel Mudiay came to Denver in 2015 and was paired with Jamal Murray in 2016. Now sitting at pick No. 13 in the 2017 NBA Draft, the Nuggets can fill a glaring need by moving up and for the third consecutive year selecting at the No. 7 pick.
Florida State’s Jonathan Isaac offers the Nuggets the perfect combination of defensive potential, scoring ability and positional need. The 6-foot-11 power forward would take over for the departing Danilo Gallinari. His addition would offer the Nuggets another potential star to pair with Nikola Jokic in what could become the best front court in the NBA.
It is not an exaggeration to say that Isaac has the highest ceiling of anyone in this year’s draft class. Until his sophomore year of high school, Isaac was a 6-foot-3 guard. Over the next two years, Isaac grew seven inches while building upon the skills he learned as a guard to develop a skill set unlike any other big man in the draft.
As a freshman at Florida State, Isaac averaged 12.0 points, 7.8 rebounds, 1.5 blocks and 1.2 steals per game. He shot nearly 35 percent from 3-point range while maintaining a scoring presence in the post. Isaac’s extreme athleticism and length make him one of the most versatile players in the NBA Draft, something Nuggets’ head coach Mike Malone prizes. Isaac’s frame combined with his unique offensive skills have drawn comparisons to Kevin Durant, and for good reason.
Extremely versatile and explosive offensive player who can score from virtually any spot on the floor. Length, elite athleticism and natural instincts also allow him to be a dominant rebounder and shot-blocker.
NBA.com profiles Jonathan Isaac as having some remarkably similar strengths – athleticism, length, mobility, court awareness, good shot blocker and solid rebounder.
Coming into the NBA, Durant measured 6-foot-10 and 215 pounds, nearly identical to Isaac at 6-foot-11 inches and 205 pounds. This is not to say that Isaac will develop into a player of Durant’s caliber, but the similarities make it impossible to deny Isaac’s potential.
It’s not just the physical attributes that make Isaac such an enticing NBA prospect. According to Florida State head coach Leonard Hamilton, Isaac’s basketball IQ and humility stood out against other players in his coaching career.
“Jonathan is an extremely humble person,” Hamilton told Reid Forgrave of CBS Sports. “But he’s also a very hard worker, extremely focused. Of all the players I’ve coached, he comes in as a youngster with an extremely high basketball IQ, one of the highest basketball IQs I’ve seen. He sees the game through a mature set of eyes, almost coach-like.”
For a young team like the Nuggets, that maturity is crucial. Should they decide to move up in the draft, the Nuggets have ample resources to entice potential suitors. One of the deepest teams in the NBA, the Nuggets have the luxury of moving players without losing large amounts of production. Paired with the team’s draft capital over the next two years, the Nuggets are in prime position to make a potentially franchise-altering move.
Should they chose to stay put at 13, there are certainly fitting options. But no other player offers the Nuggets the combination of skill set and fit that Isaac does. If the stars align and the Nuggets land lucky No. 7 for the third consecutive year, Isaac’s impact in Denver will be undeniable.
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