Trade-down scenario: The case for Florida State's Jonathan Isaac to the Sixers

Trade-down scenario: The case for Florida State's Jonathan Isaac to the Sixers

Over the weeks leading up to the 2017 NBA draft, we'll be making cases for the Sixers to draft several prospects. Our series will kick off with options at No. 3 (or trade downs) followed by second-round possibilities. The 2017 NBA draft will take place on June 22 at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York. 

The following is a trade-down scenario; if the Sixers were to draft Isaac, it would likely be in a scenario where they trade down.

Jonathan Isaac
Position:
SF/PF
School: Florida State
Height: 6-11
Weight: 205
Wing span: 7-1 ΒΌ

A 6-foot-4 guard entering high school, Isaac underwent a huge growth spurt, nearly becoming a 7-footer (he's only 19, so he still might become one). Isaac was a top-10 recruit and lived up to his billing during his lone season at Florida State.

His numbers won't blow you away: 12 points, 7.8 rebounds, 1.5 blocks and 1.2 steals per game. But it's important to note that Isaac often deferred to the team's veteran guards in sophomore Dwayne Bacon and junior Xavier Rathan-Mayes. He was efficient, taking just eight shots a contest and shooting over 50 percent.

What makes Isaac intriguing is his guard-like skill set coupled with his size and length. His jumper was inconsistent (35 percent from three), but the 78 percent he shot from the line is encouraging. He's a matchup nightmare on both ends. He's too tall and long for most wings and too quick for bigs. He also uses his length and athleticism on the defensive end by getting his hands in passing lanes and protecting the rim.

*Note: If the Sixers were to draft Isaac, it would likely be in a scenario where they trade down.

The case for Isaac
The first thought for some Sixers fans might be, "Another big?! Really?!" with a little colorful language sprinkled in. But fans that feel that way obviously haven't watched Isaac play. 

Isaac can realistically guard positions one through five in the NBA. He's the epitome of positionless basketball. At the pro level, he'll constantly have to switch out on guards and he should be able to handle it just fine. He also gives you weakside rim protection (2.3 blocks per 40 minutes) and is a deflection machine (1.8 steals per 40). 

Offensively, you can tell he's still learning how to use his lanky frame. Occasionally you'll see him make a play off the dribble or pull up for a jumper and wonder how a guy his size can be that crafty. His shot is inconsistent, but it's far from broken. He was much better in catch-and-shoot opportunities which he should get a lot of with Ben Simmons facilitating and Joel Embiid in the paint.

He's also a team player. He joined a veteran Seminoles team, earned a role, and thrived in it. Early on, he should excel as Brett Brown wants to push the basketball and play with pace and space. 

The case against Isaac
As much as I love the idea of positionless basketball, it does sort of cause a dilemma for Isaac and his fit for the Sixers. He should be quick enough to guard NBA wings from the start, so realistically, Isaac and ROY candidate Dario Saric could coexist in the starting lineup. You'd then feature a starting lineup with four players measuring 6-10 or taller. While that would be so much fun, it may not be feasible against guard-heavy teams.

He's also skinny. Like, really skinny. His biggest issue in the NBA will be how he deals with taking a beating from grown men for 82 games. He also wore down and got into a shooting slump down the stretch.

Analysis
If the Sixers had a legitimate interest in Isaac, it would make sense to trade down. I can't see him getting past the Timberwolves at No. 7, so you'd likely have to stay in front of them. 

First, I want to admit bias. I genuinely loved watching Isaac play this year. He's one of my favorite prospects. With that said, I think starting three players 6-10 or taller isn't that crazy. Especially when you have guys like Simmons and Isaac who are basically guards trapped in a bigs' body. You could also use Isaac or Saric off the bench depending on the matchup.

Isaac definitely needs to get stronger, but if he does, that should also help his three-point shooting as he adjusts to NBA range. There would probably be moans and groans about the Sixers' drafting another big, but this kid is definitely not your typical big.

Josh Hart drafted in 1st round, goes to Lakers; undrafted Kris Jenkins reportedly joins Wizards

Josh Hart drafted in 1st round, goes to Lakers; undrafted Kris Jenkins reportedly joins Wizards

Josh Hart heard his name called, while Villanova teammate Kris Jenkins did not.

Hart snuck into the first round of Thursday night's NBA draft, going 30th overall to the Utah Jazz. However, the Wildcat is headed to the Los Angeles Lakers, via a trade.

While Jenkins went undrafted, it looks like he'll have a shot with an NBA team. Jenkins will join the Washington Wizards this offseason to compete for a roster spot, according to a report by NBA.com's David Aldridge.

After winning the national title as a junior with Villanova, Hart collected plenty of accolades in a standout senior season. The 6-foot-5 wing was named a consensus first-team All-American, Big East Player of the Year and took home the Julius Erving award as the top small forward in the country.

For the 32-4 Wildcats, Hart, a Silver Spring, Maryland native, averaged 18.7 points, 6.4 rebounds, 2.9 assists and 1.5 steals per game, while shooting 40.4 percent from three-point range.

"I'm my biggest critic," he said last week after a pre-draft workout for the Sixers. "I drive myself as much as I can. I demand perfection from myself."

As Hart travels west, Jenkins, on the other hand, will head home for his NBA opportunity. The 6-foot-6 forward, beloved for his buzzer-beating three-pointer to win Villanova its 2016 national championship, is from Upper Marlboro, Maryland. He worked out for the Wizards in early June. He also worked out for the Sixers on Tuesday.

"It's a blessing," he said after his session with the Wizards, via the Washington Post. "You always root for the hometown team, you always want them to do well. Honestly it's humbling to be in this position, to grow up in this area, to have some games here and play college ball here and then come back and work out for the Wizards."

After flirting with the NBA draft process following their title-winning season, both Hart and Jenkins decided to return to school for their senior campaigns.

They both took to Twitter on Thursday night following the draft β€” Hart in excitement, Jenkins more in a humorous manner.

Sixers 'dug very deep' into Markelle Fultz's perceived weaknesses

Sixers 'dug very deep' into Markelle Fultz's perceived weaknesses

CAMDEN, N.J. β€” You don't have to do much research on Markelle Fultz to find his perceived shortcomings.

Washington finished 9-22 his only season there. Draft experts also questioned his effort, especially on the defensive end of the floor.

None of that concerned the Sixers when they made him the No. 1 overall pick in the NBA draft Thursday night (see story).

"One of the weaknesses was, 'Does he bring it every night defensively? Did he have that killer instinct?'" Sixers head coach Brett Brown said following the pick. "I think if you take a high character person and you take an athlete, you have the foundation to coach him to be an elite defender."

There isn't much question about Fultz's offensive game. The 19-year-old guard averaged 23.2 points, 5.9 assists and 5.7 rebounds per game in his only season with the Huskies. He also shot an impressive 41.3 percent from three-point range.

His skill set as a shooter and scorer seems to complement the skills of franchise centerpieces Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid. With his selection, president of basketball operations Bryan Colangelo is hoping the Sixers can start to build a winning culture.

But does Fultz's nine-win season at Washington concern him at all?

"You look at every aspect of evaluating a prospect," Colangelo said. "We've dug very deep on this and we feel that regardless of whatever the performance of the University of Washington Huskies was last year, it's not relevant to who Markelle represents, what he represents as a player, and how he is going to fit in and help us turn this program around."

Fultz took an interesting path to being the No. 1 pick. He didn't make the varsity team at famed DeMatha High School in Maryland as a sophomore (see story). A growth spurt helped bring more attention to his game.

He chose Washington because of the relationship he had developed with its coaching staff. He also thought he'd have the opportunity to play with sophomores Marquese Chriss and Dejounte Murray. Instead, both players were surprise one-and-dones and Fultz was forced to carry the team on his shoulders.

"He wasn't always considered the best prospect, but he emerged and earned the right to be the best prospect," Colangelo said. "You're talking about a young man who goes to the University of Washington, didn't have great team success. Unfortunately, part of that may be personnel driven, part of that may be circumstantial.

"To do what he did at the level of the Pac-12 and to be able to average 23 points a game, six rebounds and six assists. You're talking, again, about great performance on the floor, a player that does so many different things and we believe someone that's going to help make his teammates better. "

Colangelo mentioned that Fultz "has the tools" to become an excellent defender. Fultz stands at 6-foot-4 with an impressive 6-foot-10 span. He also has plenty of athleticism and strength to compete defensively against NBA ones and twos.

Brown acknowledged that defense could be the biggest hole in Fultz's game, but feels like he could get the most out of Fultz on the defensive end.

"I think that down deep he understands the knock against him and I believe that when we get him with our program, he understands how we see the world here," Brown said. "It's gonna be an evolution, no doubt. But it's a willing defensive player and it's a willing athlete, a gifted athlete under a roof of a quality person. I think having those types of qualities lets you have a far better chance to mold him into the type of defensive player we need here."