Orlando Magic forward Jonathan Isaac believes he has turned the corner

The NBA Draft Lottery on Tuesday will deliver the Orlando Magic a promising young prospect one way or another. Much of this offseason will be centered on how to get the most out of the likely two draft picks headed Orlando’s way.

There will not be much progress in the way of free agents as the Magic sort through their roster and plan for the next phase of their development. The team is going to be focusing on developing its young roster more than anything else.

That is going to be part of what the team’s new coach will focus on once that person is hired and installed.

The Magic roster that begins the 2022 season may very well look the same as it does today with the draft picks and maybe a trade or two with some veteran free agents to fill out the bench.

One thing will undoubtedly be different though. Orlando may not be getting a new player, but one impact player will be returning at some point in the coming season. And the Magic already know what his presence means.

The Orlando Magic will add a key player to their future in the NBA Draft Lottery. But the return of Jonathan Isaac also looms large. He recently updated his recovery.

Jonathan Isaac is set to return at some point during the 2022 season. When is not exactly known and the Magic will not put a timeline on his — or Markelle Fultz’s return. There has not even been much of an update on their progress as the Magic remain notoriously conservative with information and with their progress.

Isaac will be a year removed from tearing his ACL in August. It is widely expected that he will be ready to participate in training camp. But first, come the baby steps.

On the latest episode of The Sixth Man Show, Isaac gave the most concrete update on his recovery that we have heard to date. He said he feels he is turning a corner and moving better every day.

While that does not put a timeline on his return to the court, it is a promising sign.

“It’s going well,” Isaac said on the podcast (linked above). I’m turning the corner. It’s like every day I feel like I’m moving better and I can do more. I’m like a kid in the candy story wanting to run around and do so much. I feel good. I’m getting better every day.”

It is not the detail-infused update Magic fans are likely hoping for. But it is a positive sign to hear even this little update from Isaac. He certainly seems eager to get back out on the floor.

The Magic and their fans are eager to see him out there too.

Isaac was having a breakout season in 2020, averaging 11.9 points per game, grabbing 6.8 rebounds per game and shooting a 51.8-percent effective field goal percentage (even showing some growth as a 3-point shooter at 34.0-percent). More impressively, Isaac averaged 2.3 blocks and 1.6 steals per game, becoming one of the best defensive players in the league.

Everyone is eager to see just how quickly Isaac can jump back in and mix things up defensively. He is not the sole reason the Magic were a great defensive team in 2019 and the early parts of 2020, but he certainly did not hurt. Isaac remains one of the few players on the team with clear elite-level talent.

Of course, Isaac has not played in a really long time.

He suffered a severe knee strain on Jan. 1, 2020, and was slated to miss the rest of the season. The pandemic and the bubble gave him a reprieve and he returned to action during the team’s scrimmages and came off the bench in the first two seeding round games.

That was when disaster struck and Isaac tore his ACL, keeping him out for the entire 2021 season.

It has certainly been a grind since then. Isaac said in the podcast he was impressed with some of the gains he has made even during the rehab process. But it is obviously a long and arduous road to return.

Be sure to listen to the podcast as Isaac talks about his perspective on the trade deadline deals and how the organization handled it along with the potential for a new coach and his hopes for the upcoming season, including his role seemingly as one of the veteran players on the team.

No matter where the Magic end up in the Lottery or who they end up drafting, the Magic will be bringing back a high-level player who will help them in the short- and long-term.

All they have to do is wait for the all-clear of his return to the court.