Analysis: Jonathan Isaac and Jayson Tatum should be on Sacramento’s radar

The Sacramento Kings will have to fill the void at two positions come June, and they will have an opportunity to do so with two picks in the later top ten of the draft. The only way that doesn’t happen is if the lottery balls bounce in a very strange way. Let’s just leave it at that.

With a combination of Buddy Hield, Willie Cauley-Stein and Skal Labissiere, the Kings will have to surround the young trio with a skilled point guard and small forward.

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Currently, the Kings are projected to receive the eighth and tenth overall picks in the 2017 draft, which gives them the chance to take two skilled players to round out a youthful starting lineup.

Already addressed in a previous article, the two point guards the Kings should heavily consider are Dennis Smith Jr. and the French sensation, Frank Ntilikina.

With both Smith Jr. and Ntilikina projected to still be on the board come the 10th pick, let’s take a closer look at two small forwards that the Kings should focus on as they might be more of a priority: Jayson Tatum of Duke, and Jonathan Isaac of Florida State.

After Rudy Gay’s season ending torn Achilles injury this past season, a greater focus has been made surrounding the small forward position for the Kings. The question whether Gay will comeback stronger than before is still unknown but a speedy recovery time has allowed most to think things are heading in the right direction.

But with the unknown still glooming, Sacramento will have to draft a “replacement” if you will, in this years draft.

Jonathan Isaac 6-10, 210 lbs, SF, Fr. FLORIDA STATE

There is no question that Isaac has one of the highest upsides of any small forward in this year’s draft. In a pro style offense at Florida State, Isaac led the Seminoles in rebounds and was second in scoring averaging 12 points and 7.8 rebounds, while shooting over 50 percent from the field. With a long 6-foot-10 frame, Isaac has a body similar to Kevin Durant and a set of skills similar to Paul George.

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At 6-foot-10, Isaac is well ahead of most big men, as he is a threat from deep. Isaac’s strongest ability is to create his own shot off the dribble, which is uncommon for players his size.

He is very fluid with the basketball and is a very coordinated big. Isaac is not timid with the ball in his hands and is a versatile threat at the free throw line extended. Ball handling is not a problem for Isaac as he can push the ball up the floor and start the offense in the half-court.

Isaac also moves well without the ball. Posted mostly around the free throw line extended, Isaac has the ability to float around the 3-point line and slash to the rim when necessary.

{Here is a video breakdown Leo Beas did a few days ago}

The reason why Isaac plays like a guard is because his size was not always there. A late six-inch growth spurt in high school caused Isaac to get to his 6-foot-10 frame and is still learning to use his size in the low post.

Although his defensive presence is felt, Isaac will need to transform into a low post scorer to better round out his game. Isaac landing in Sacramento would create a big three in the post, playing alongside athletic skilled bigs, Cauley-Stein and Labissiere.

Jayson Tatum 6-8, 205 lbs, SF, Fr. DUKE

In the early part of the NCAA season, Mike Krzyzewski held back on the reigns of Tatum while he floated around the mid first round in multiple draft boards. It wasn’t until the midway point of this year that Krzyzewski unleashed Tatum’s skill set, which satisfied many scouts around the league.

Tatum had a remarkable ACC Tournament as he averaged 22 points leading Duke to an ACC Tournament Championship. He finished the season at Duke averaging 16.8 points, 7.3 rebounds and 2.1 assists.

Tatum is most comparable to Danny Granger or to Rudy Gay (not kidding). Tatum has the ability to defend at both the three and four spots while being mobile in doing so.

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Offensively, Tatum brings an extended range, a high post shooting threat and mobility on the pick and pop or the screen and roll. Tatum’s most valuable asset is his ball handling ability for his size.

Being able to take on multiple opponents at his size offers him the advantage of getting to the rim with ease and drawing contact. Tatum’s game is viewed as un-cringe worthy as multiple players his size are sometimes not well acclimated with a ball handling repertoire.

Tatum seems like the right fit for the Kings, as they do not have a player currently like him on the roster. With Gay potentially on his way out and dealing with injury, Tatum could be a decent backup plan as well as Isaac.

Once Rudy Gay makes his decision on opting in or opting out, a plan to draft a small forward will become more and more realistic come June. The probability to draft Isaac becomes more ideal as multiple draft boards have Tatum going in the top five. A combination of Isaac and another athletic guard in Ntilikina or Smith Jr. would round out a youthful and athletic starting five for the upcoming season.

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Manny Vieites
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