Josh Jackson looks like a perfect fit for the Phoenix Suns. It’ll be considered lucky if the Kansas swingman falls to their fourth overall pick in the NBA Draft.
Jayson Tatum might be the consolation prize. The Duke small forward is widely regarded as a top-five pick and a solid option for Phoenix, which could use wing depth more than anything.
But with a draft class where the other top options come at the point guard position — the Suns aren’t desperate for one of those — a third forward might be flying under the radar for Phoenix.
Florida State’s Jonathan Isaac could be a darkhorse option, and by ESPN Analytics’ Draft Model, he’s actually the best-rated player in the class.
ESPN’s Paul Sabin created a list of draft steals based on where they ranked in the draft model compared to where draft expert Chad Ford has them on his big board.
Isaac appears sixth on Ford’s big board, but he has the best projected Statistical Plus Minus in his first five NBA seasons, per ESPN’s analytical model.
The 6-foot-11, 210-pound forward’s skillset, not to mention the fit, has Sabin considering him a potential steal for the Suns.
Isaac has the third-best adjusted defensive rebounding percentage in this draft class and a 55 percent adjusted effective field goal percentage, which is as good as any other small forward in this draft class. His college stats are most similar to those of Otto Porter, who was selected No. 3 by the Washington Wizards in 2013 and was a key piece for a team that finished a win away from the Eastern Conference finals this season.
It is unlikely that Isaac is going to work his way into the top three, but at No. 4, the Phoenix Suns could get a top-quality player should Isaac be available when they’re on the clock.
Of course, Porter is no All-Star, but of his 2013 draft class members did rank as the third-best in Wins Above Replacement behind only Giannis Antetokounmpo and Utah center Rudy Gobert.
Likewise, Isaac, who averaged 12 points and 7.8 rebounds, 1.5 blocks and 1.2 steals per game at FSU, projects well because of his defensive versatility and his shooting potential. With Phoenix, he would play the small forward spot alongside Dragan Bender and Marquese Chriss in the frontcourt.
Whether Isaac becomes a realistic target remains hard to pinpoint at this time.
Jackson and Tatum likely have higher ceilings as first or second offensive options. But like the other two wings on the board for the Suns, Isaac also has the potential to blossom into a more aggressive scorer after he played a similar glue-guy role for his college team as a freshman.
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