Lowe: The NBA's six most intriguing players


It’s time for our first fall tradition: picking the six most intriguing players of the season. As usual, we (mostly) steer clear of superstars and rookies.

Jonathan Isaac, Orlando Magic

Orlando’s offseason plan for Isaac led him to a startling discovery.

“I did not know I could eat this much,” Isaac says. “My mind is blown. Eating is almost not enjoyable anymore.” Isaac says he has eaten five or six “real meals” every day to add heft to his string-bean frame — without compromising the quickness and switchability that hold All-Defense promise.

The Magic estimate Isaac has put on 15 to 20 pounds. That would mitigate his only major vulnerability on defense: brutes burrowing into Isaac’s chest, dislodging him, and lofting layups as he stumbles backward. Against some teams, the Magic toggled assignments so Aaron Gordon would defend behemoth power forwards — leaving Isaac to trail wings.

Jeff Van Gundy often had Isaac defend wings during practices with the USA Select team; during that camp, Isaac says he texted Pat Delany, an Orlando assistant, requesting Delany prepare film of players who were good at scampering around with wings. “I really don’t know how to read guys coming off screens,” Isaac says.

Isaac should become a stopper against every position. His combination of length and speed is outrageous. He reads the game well. What stands out already is an absence of mistakes — unusual for a player so young.



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