Isaiah Joe, Guard, University of Arkansas
- 2019-2020 Season: 26 GP, 36.1 MPG, 16.9 PPG, 4.2 RPG, 1.7 APG, 1.4 SPG, 36.7 FG%, 34.2 3PT%, 89 FT%, 55.7 TS%
- Career: 60 GP, 32.7 MPG, 15.2 PPG, 3.4 RPG, 1.7 APG, 1.5 SPG, 39 FG%, 37.8 3PT%, 82.7 FT%
- Accolades: 2018-19 SEC All-Freshman Team
- Advanced Statistical Strengths (per Tankathon): Projected NBA 3PT Percentage (40.5), 3PA Rate (.764), FT% (89)
- Advanced Statistical Weaknesses: AST%/USG (0.41), AST/TO (1.00), EFG% (49.7)
- Big Board Placements: Tankathon (54), ESPN (60), The Athletic (72)
It’s a phrase that many use to try to land their dream girl, go for the ideal job, or achieve any goal. Shooters shoot is also relatable to the NBA; in that, if you got a cannon from deep, you might have a solid career.
Arkansas’ Isaiah Joe is a prime example of that. He’s one of the most prolific shooters in this draft. Not only can he shoot it, but he’ll let it fly at a high rate. Can Joe overcome his deficiencies to become one of the league’s most prolific shooters?
What He Does Well
Isaiah Joe’s main strength is well-documented. He’s a long-range bucket.
At the next level, he’s going to be asked to fire 3s more often than inside the arc. He’s already used to that workload, as 76.4% from his shots came from 3 — 10.6 attempts per game, 3rd in the country. Though his 3-point percentage seems a bit low, the sheer volume at which he shoots them at makes him an asset. In addition, he flashed his upside as a marksman as a freshman when he shot 41.4% from 3 on 8 attempts per game.
His role is the NBA projects to be a 3-point specialist, and his ability to shoot off the dribble can make him a lethal weapon at the next level. He was an elite pull-up shooter in college, ranking in the 89th and 97th percentile off the dribble in his career. If that translates to the next level, you’re looking at someone who could become a microwave scorer in the NBA.
Steals aren’t everything about a defender, but Joe’s steal numbers display a bit of promise regarding his 3-and-D potential. During college, he averaged 1.5 steals over his two seasons, and he was also a positive in both DBPM (1.2) and Defensive Win Shares (0.7). If he could become a neutral team defender at the next level, that’ll do a lot for his value.
Where He Needs to Improve
One thing that’d be nice to see out of Joe at the next level is improvement as a playmaker. Granted he’s exceptional at creating his own shot, but what can he do for others? He possessed a low assist number for a guard, and he turns the ball over just as frequently. If he could be a better decision-maker as a passer, it’d open up his game more as an off-dribble scorer.
Though his defensive numbers are fine, he needs to establish himself as a multi-positional defender in the NBA. He could probably guard 1’s and 2’s fine, but he needs to be able to guard 3’s as well. If he could hold his own across those 3 positions, he’ll be in good shape on that end of the floor.
One will point to his shooting efficiency, as his field goal percentage and effective field goal percentage are quite low. However, those numbers should resemble his shooting abilities once he’s no longer the focal point of a defense.
Where He Fits
Isaiah Joe’s rookie season could go one of two ways.
1) He could spend the majority of it in the G-League, where he becomes a more dynamic player off the dribble, primarily as a playmaker.
2) He could become a lights-out shooter for a good team in his rookie year, similar to Landry Shamet last year.
Joe would be a fun addition for the Hustle, but he could nab rotation minutes for the Memphis Grizzlies. His “Let It Fly” mentality embodies Coach Taylor Jenkins’ mantra super well. His ability to space the floor and fire off the pass fits wonderfully next to Ja Morant as well. Though he may not be a better all-around player than Grayson Allen or John Konchar, his elite skill as a shooter could be a differentiator for him.
Verdict: If he doesn’t return to school, he’ll either take a huge leap into a bonafide first-round pick, or he’ll be there for the Grizzlies at 40.
Stats found on sports-reference.