Zach Lowe's latest article:
4. Jonathan Isaac, showing flashes
It has become axiomatic that Aaron Gordon is not a wing, and that Orlando continuing to play him as one alongside both Isaac and Nikola Vucevic is stubborn folly. Against top defenses, that is probably true, and might remain so for years.
But this trio has been sneakily solid despite the Magic employing zero starting-caliber point guards to guide them. Orlando has outscored opponents by almost six points per 100 possessions with their ultra-big frontline, per NBA.com.
We know what Orlando wants defensively -- length, length, length -- and Isaac is going to be a multi-positional destroyer. They will rise and fall on the other end. The idea is that Gordon and Vucevic bring enough shooting and playmaking to open the floor. The execution is uneven, but you see flashes -- including the occasional use of Isaac as rim-runner:
Terrence Ross is on the floor there in Gordon's place. That matters. Gordon is shooting just 34 percent from deep. Defenses stray from him to bump cutters. But unlocking this part of Isaac's game is important. It hasn't been easy; Vucevic is Orlando's primary screener, and Gordon needs reps, too.
The Magic won't pry huge openings with all three on the floor; everyone has to get comfortable slicing through tight corridors. Isaac has been better over the past month attacking scrambled defenses off the catch:
He is averaging 14.5 points per game in February, the best scoring month of his career.
Isaac has hit just 29 percent from deep; until he proves a threat from there, smart defenders will just wait for him in the paint. But he's trying more 3s, and his stroke looks smoother.
I'm officially intrigued with what these guys might do if Orlando found a real point guard. Old-school size can work if it comes in a package of new-school skill. The Magic held onto Vucevic, signaling they are open to re-signing him. I'm in for Gordon-Isaac-Vucevic until Mohamed Bamba is ready.