Who is the next Orlando Magic All-Star?

Markelle Fultz and Aaron Gordon are part of a future for the Orlando Magic that includes no clear All-Star. (Photo by Harry Aaron/Getty Images)
Markelle Fultz and Aaron Gordon are part of a future for the Orlando Magic that includes no clear All-Star. (Photo by Harry Aaron/Getty Images) /
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Jonathan Isaac, Orlando Magic
The promise of Jonathan Isaac is that it is still not clear how good he can really be. (Photo by Gene Sweeney Jr./Getty Images) /

2. Jonathan Isaac

Absence can make the heart grow fonder. And the Orlando Magic really miss Jonathan Isaac right now.

Not even for what he might have done to help the team win, but more for the development that was still on the horizon. The season did not come completely falling down when Jonathan Isaac suffered a posterior lateral corner injury in his left knee in early January. But the team lost one of its most dynamic playmakers.

If the key to winning a championship is to have elite players, the Magic lost the one player on the team who was elite at something.

Isaac was on track to lead the league in “stocks” — blocks and steals combined. He was flirting with becoming the first win to lead the league in blocks since Andrei Kirilenko in 2004. It was exceedingly rare to watch a player impact the game at the rim essentially as a wing player. Isaac nearly joined the 5×5 club in a game against the Dallas Mavericks.

Isaac was a true defensive difference-maker. And Orlando has still been OK defensively — sixth in the league in defensive rating since Isaac’s injury on Jan. 1 — but something has definitely been missing. The Magic are not the same defensive juggernaut without Isaac in there.

That defensive development is the one truly elite thing the Magic had. Isaac would have been on the All-Defensive Team this year if not for the injury. Someone is holding his spot for when he returns likely next season.

The only thing holding Isaac back from All-Star consideration immediately is his slowly developing offense.

The Magic still struggled to set him up for many shots and offensive opportunities — even when Nikola Vucevic and Aaron Gordon were out in November. Isaac is averaging 12.0 points per game on a career-best 46.3-percent shooting. He still only takes 10.1 field goal attempts per game.

His offensive growth has been slow. But Isaac was starting to show a little more courage to expand his offensive game before his injury.

He took a few bad shots, in other words. But there were still some moments of brilliance — a couple of post fadeaways were most notable and he still has a solid two-dribble pull-up.

It was hard to see that progress halted with the injury. Isaac is expected to make a full recovery and have no lingering effects from this injury. But the Magic will have to wait, likely until next year, to figure out what more they have in him.

His rookie contract is nearly running out. And so some decisions about what his true future is are on the horizon. But Isaac undoubtedly has All-Star potential.