The Orlando Magic have been without their 2017 first-round pick Jonathan Issac for two consecutive seasons. Issac blowing out his ACL and meniscus in the 2020 NBA Bubble was a catastrophic loss to a franchise that would later compete in that year’s postseason.
Since then, the Magic have settled in on their lottery picks with Jalen Suggs and Paolo Banchero and trading their star big Nikola Vučević to the Chicago Bulls. Building a young athletic core seems to be the philosophy of the front office in Orlando. Their premiere defensive player believes it’s just a matter of time until he makes his emotional return to the court.
“I’m closer than I’ve ever been,” Issac said to the Orlando Sentinel. “I’ve been playing the last few weeks and just getting in shape. I’m still getting there. But in terms of body, knees, and hamstrings, everything is great. I’m just not in game shape.”
His defensive tenacity was fully displayed before getting hurt in the 2020 season. He averaged 2.3 blocks and 1.6 steals per game, leading the team in both categories. Issac was also as pure as it gets going 47 percent from the field, ahead of notable pieces like Aaron Gordon and Markelle Fultz.
Though the team hasn’t given a clear date as to when Issac can play, he’s undoubtedly pushed the strides to get back out there. It’ll certainly be a surreal night for when the time comes, but the star forward remains on the task at hand, fully healthy.
“The only step is continuing to get in shape,” Isaac said. “We played the other day, and I was gassed. Obviously, I haven’t done it in a long time. Continuing to get in shape and playing 5-on-5 four times a week. Just being able to run up and down and get in shape is what I’m focused on right now.”