Age: 19 (April 22nd, 2001)
Weight: 250 lbs
One of Isaiah Stewart’s bigger strengths is his ability to score on the block. He can establish a great initial position with tree trunks for legs and can move people. This will help him pin his man under the rim especially against switches to score quickly before a double can come. Then when a double does come, Stewart is a very good passer out of the post and will generally make the right pass out. On the block, Stewart has shown he can score with post hooks, drop steps, and face-up jumpers. He’s also got good touch with both hands. His jump shot is pretty good for a center at 19 years old. His mechanics can improve slightly, but he’s got a soft touch on his jump shot, which is why he shot 77.4% from the free-throw line. He also went 5/20 from 3 on the year. It will take time for him to extend his range to the 3 point line, but he’s got a good foundation and can hit that mid-range shot consistently to keep defenses honest. Then he also does a good job of rim running despite not being the best athlete. On the defensive end, one of his biggest strengths is his ability to stay vertical and also proved to be comfortable blocking shots with either hand. He did a great job of contesting without fouling. Another thing to note, like on the offensive end, he does his work early and will fight guys off the block and make it tough on them before they even touch the ball. Then his motor on the glass was there. His ability to seal defensive rebounds was evident as he consistently found a body and went up strong with two hands. Then on the offensive glass, he would do a good job of working and reading the bounce off the rim and sometimes just even tipping the ball back out to teammates if he couldn’t secure the rebound. He also appears to be a likable person. On January 5th, 2019, Isaiah Stewart played a very good game against USC, and when he got subbed out, he was consistently getting applause from his teammates with hugs and high fives. Even his coaches were giving him hugs during the game. Then to top it off, he got a standing ovation from the crowd at the end of the game and you could just feel it in the atmosphere that this dude positively affects people. Him fitting in with a locker room is the least of my worries.
One of Stewart’s biggest weaknesses is that he’s not great at scoring on the move. His touch off pick rolls wasn’t great. He only attempted 3 floaters according to Synergy, and he’s not the most athletic guy either. This creates concern if he will be able to score out of the pick and roll in a pick and roll heavy league. Then on the defensive end, defending the pick and roll is another concern. He doesn’t have very good lateral quickness so he is strictly limited to play mostly in drop coverage. Another problem his lack of foot speed creates is him not being able to slide over and rotate in time. This can lead to him getting in foul trouble by needing to jump into the defender because he can’t slide over in time to either take a charge or jump straight up. He’s also only 6’9, so he’s already undersized as is so while he has some really good instincts and a desire to protect the rim, it will be a harder transition from college to pro. I talked about his passing with his back to the basket, but he can continue to improve as a passer in the short roll, but he’s ahead of most centers his age in that department. His 3 point shot has a ways to go and it will be years before teams will truly respect him from there.
Unfortunately for Stewart, the modern game has shifted away from his style of play as a bruiser on the block. This creates concern for most teams to not want to invest a first-round pick in him. I do think he has a slight advantage over Vernon Carey (another big projected around his range), because Stewart is a good teammate, a hard worker, and competes on both ends. A player that reminds me of Isaiah is Wendell Carter. Carter is used as a rim running, protecting the rim type of big, but that’s not who he was at Duke. Carter isn’t nearly as wide as Stewart, so I think there’s more potential for him as a scorer on the block. Overall though, a team is most likely going to draft him as a backup center that will come in and play any role you ask him to because that’s who he is. The few teams that I think could utilize his talents within the flow of their offense are the Spurs (12), Trailblazers (16), and Nuggets (22). However, it’s most likely he will not go that high in the draft so it’s too soon to tell how to project his career, because so much of it will depend upon the situation. At the very least, Stewart will find a way to be a part of a team’s rotation, because of his talent, work ethic, and willingness to win.
Article Written by Bradley Patten
Stats found on Basketball Reference (https://www.sports-reference.com/cbb/players/isaiah-stewart-2.html)
Photo Credit to Leon Bennett/Getty Images (https://www.brewhoop.com/2020/4/7/21210099/milwaukee-bucks-2020-nba-draft-prospects-isaiah-stewarts-scouting-report)