3 Orlando Magic players who will surprise in 2023
3. Jonathan Isaac
Jonathan Isaac being on the list may seem like a contradiction. And it very well could be with Mo Bamba and Wendell Carter in the front court.
Isaac has been out of sight and out of mind after being off the court for two years. A lot of people have just written him off, especially after having another surgery back in March.
Even if he does return, nobody knows what to expect from him. He is starting almost completely from scratch. That might be how the Orlando Magic view his contributions. They certainly have planned to continue playing without him with both Franz Wagner and Paolo Banchero on the roster from the last two drafts.
Having a healthy season would probably surprise people at this point in time.
But when he is on the floor, he has the capability of being one of the Magic’s best players.
2020 was a successful season for Isaac as he set career highs in points, rebounds, assists, blocks, steals and shooting percentage while only playing in 2.6 more minutes per game than in the previous year.
Isaac logged almost 700 minutes on the court with Markelle Fultz in 2020 so next season they should be comfortable with each other, despite all of the roster turnover the last couple years.
Isaac also played just less than 1,000 minutes alongside Nikola Vucevic and Aaron Gordon which shows his ability to play with different types of front court players.
He will need to be able to do the same with Wendell Carter Jr. and Mo Bamba if he wants to get consistent playing time.
Everyone just has to see where he left off and where he can take off from.
To start the season, he will have an opportunity, much like Fultz will, to prove himself as one of the veterans on such a young team. The Magic are going to be cautious with his minutes. But Isaac still has that elite defensive potential. It may be hard to keep him off the court.
Development in the NBA is not always linear.
Fans may want Isaac to at least pick up where he left off in 2020. After all, he is the highest paid player on the team and has taken plenty of time to get healthy.
But Isaac finding his way in the rotation and proving the investment was the right decision, is a lot easier said than done. And after being out of basketball for two years, asking anymore other than a healthy season may be unrealistic.
If he is not healthy, then all bets are off. He will not be a surprise player and will not be a part of the future. But if he can stay on the court, then he will set himself up to surprise many NBA fans.