Four months ago, playing in the 23rd game of his college career, Jonathan Isaac contested a shot on the baseline in an Atlantic Coast Conference contest at Miami. After grabbing the loose-ball rebound, the Florida State freshman took off downcourt, leading the Seminoles in transition. Head up, dribbling with his left hand, the 6-foot-11 Isaac read the ball screen at the top of the key. He pivoted left, facing the help defender, then darted toward the basket in a flash, splitting the Miami defenders, taking two more dribbles and laying the ball in with his right hand. When asked about the sequence last week, Florida State coach Leonard Hamilton laughed. “That’s what he does all the time,” he said. “If it’s a critical part of the game, Jonathan seizes the moment.” If the Suns decide to go with a small forward in the June 22 NBA draft, General Manager Ryan McDonough will have a difficult decision. In addition to Isaac, Josh Jackson of Kansas and Jayson Tatum of Duke bring just as impressive credentials. All freshmen, all talented and all could be available when the Suns select at No. 4. Which one fits best? It might depend on what the Suns value most at this point in their rebuild. After finishing with the league’s second-worst record (aided by late-season resting of key players), increasing their playoff drought to a franchise-long seven years, the Suns have several areas of need. Their defense ranked among the NBA’s worst most of last season. Their 3-point shooting wasn’t much better. Isaac, Jackson and Tatum could help, but in different areas with perhaps different timetables. At 6-8, Jackson might be the best suited to help from the get go. He reminds ESPN college analyst Fran Fraschilla of former Phoenix favorite Shawn Marion, and in some ways the comparison fits. Jackson is quick off his feet, leading to put-back dunks and backdoor lobs.
Suns could face tough NBA draft decision with small forwards
Arizona Republic | May 31