2023 Orlando Magic Player Outlook: Jonathan Isaac’s goal Is to stay on the court

Jonathan Isaac is still rehabbing from his knee injury and likely will not be ready to go for training camp. Mandatory Credit: Russ Isabella-USA TODAY Sports
Jonathan Isaac is still rehabbing from his knee injury and likely will not be ready to go for training camp. Mandatory Credit: Russ Isabella-USA TODAY Sports /

Entering the 2023 NBA season, Jonathan Isaac has only one goal. It is to stay healthy throughout the season.

Of course, it is essential to see how Isaac responds to the game after missing more than two years. But it will be a milestone once Isaac returns to the court. With the injuries starting to pile up again with Jalen Suggs’ bone bruise, it will be a breath of fresh air once Jonathan Isaac is ready to stay healthy long-term.

Isaac has already returned from injury before just to face another injury. He was on track with his recovery before a hamstring injury further sidelined him. The Magic’s plan for Isaac has seemed to be to take their time with his recovery to make sure once he returns that it is for good and not to have nagging effects that will have him in and out of the lineup.

Isaac stated he has cleared all of the hurdles and is currently putting all of the work together to get into the game speed before returning to the lineup. Isaac continued to state he feels that he is the best version of himself skill-wise since he entered the league. While that would be great to see immediately, this is unlikely to be the case.

It is important to note that before going down with his injuries, Isaac was a candidate for the Defensive Player of the Year award.

Jonathan Isaac is still waiting for the all-clear to return to the court. The Orlando Magic and he are eager to see that happen. His goal is just to return and stay on the court.

During the 2020 season, Isaac averaged 11.9 points per game and 6.8 rebounds per game. He added 1.6 steals and 2.3 blocks per game, leading the league in “stocks” that season. He had 4.1 deflections per 75 possessions that season.

Opponents shot 8.52 percentage points worse than expected at the rim against Isaac, according to Basketball Index. That was in the 97th percentile. He was in the 99th percentile in D-LEBRON, 86th percentile in Defensive Real Plus-Minus and 97th percentile in Defensive RAPTOR.

It all added up to Isaac being one of the absolute best defensive players in the league in the 2020 season. It is easy to imagine Isaac getting there again.

But it would be wrong to expect that from the start. While Isaac will have an immediate impact on the team, it will take time for Isaac to return to form what he was before the injury.

The first step though is to get Isaac back on the court. That remains a process.

Isaac is able to get some shots up, but is still largely working on his own. As both Jonathan Isaac and Jeff Weltman have described it, Isaac is doing a lot of the pieces to the puzzle individually. But he has yet to put all the pieces together.

He is doing contact drills with coaching staff and trainers, but he has yet to join the team for five-on-five or live action. That is likely the last step in the process.

As always, when Isaac will get there seems to be the biggest mystery. The Magic do not share timetables for return. And they have been especially quiet when it comes to Isaac’s return.

Even after two years, it is not clear when Isaac will be back on the floor or how far along in the recovery process is. He is closer than he was before. But that is no solace.

Once he returns, the Magic can expect a slow move too.

Weltman has said several times the team is cognizant of his prolonged absence. They will not throw him right back into the fires of the NBA. And they will be carefully managing him throughout the process of his return.

When the Magic brought back Markelle Fultz last year, they limited him to 18 minutes per game and did not play him back-to-backs.

It is safe to assume Isaac will get similar treatment. He will likely come off the bench and play under a fairly strict minute restriction.

But the larger goals for Isaac still exist. And none of them can happen until he gets back on the floor.

Everyone is just waiting for that. From there, the team can assess what his skill level is and how much he can contribute to the team.

At this point, it is hard to assess what to expect from Isaac. It has just been so long since he took the floor and played. Everyone just wants to see him play. At this point that is all anyone needs to see.

That is where everything has to start for Isaac and the Magic. It is just waiting for the all-clear at this point.

If the Magic want to experience any type of success this season, it will take their players to remain healthy for the long haul which is why they have taken this approach with Isaac.

In the end, there is no doubt Isaac will be a good player once he returns. But it will take time as he gets his legs under him.

Next. Chuma Okeke has to be himself. dark

In the meantime, stats are not the gauge to judge Isaac this season, but rather his ability to stay healthy. This season will be a great success if Isaac can stay once he makes his long-awaited return.