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2020 NBA Draft Profiles: Isaiah Stewart

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Could the bruiser from Washington be the next addition to Carlisle’s bullpen of big men?

NCAA Basketball: Pac-12 Tournament-Washington vs Arizona Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports

Isaiah Stewart was born in Rochester, New York where he attended the same high school as Jaren Jackson Jr. While Jaren is the kind of player any team would like to have, his game and Stewart’s are quite different. Take a look at why Stewart’s skillset mixed with his physical attributes and he might be just what the doctor ordered for Dallas.

The Specs

Height: 6’9”

Weight: 245

Wingspan: 7’4”

Key Notes

Offense

  • High work ethic, frequently described as “very coachable player” with “lots of potential to grow”
  • Very young, lots of time for Carlisle/Shammgod/Mosely to add things to his bag
  • Strength combined with his large frame makes him a good low-post option
  • Decent mid-range, could use improvement on three-point shooting
  • Decent free throw shooter, could get lots of easy points battling down low for offensive rebounds and drawing fouls on second chance points
  • Patient down on the block when utilizing low-post skills
  • Goes up strong, doesn’t play timid
  • Not very quick/fast, may be okay though with Luka/Seth being PnR ballhandler; both have lots of patience

Defense

  • Great shot blocker
  • Known for his defense and rebounding; different kind of big for Carlisle’s “Big men Bullpen”
  • Not the best perimeter defender
  • Massive wingspan, allows him to get in passing lane when in help defense
  • A little under-sized (height-wise), but solid frame
  • Thick, athletic build which would allow for us to throw someone else on opposing big men to take the load off of Kristaps Porzingis and also keep him out of foul trouble
  • Lack of quickness frequently results in him getting beat off the dribble
  • Strength and frame makes it tough for anyone to back him down
  • Great anticipation, allowing for blocks without fouling

Active Player Comparisons

If everything goes wrong: The non Laker version of Dwight Howard

If everything goes right: Young Zach Randolph + athleticism

Most Realistic Outcome: Thicker Derrick Favors

Stats and Accomplishments

Career Averages:

Best Games Last Season

vs. Oregon

25 points, 19 rebounds, 5 blocks, 2 steals, 6-13 FGA, 12-15 FTA (80%)

vs. Seattle

27 points, 13 rebounds, 1 block, 11-14 FGA (79%)

vs. Arizona

29 points, 12 rebounds, 1 block, 9-11 FGA (82%), 10-11 FTA (91%)

3 Key Things

  • The Defensive Presence

Stewart is sight to see physically. He has a muscular, thick build which allows him to have a strong defensive presence. He’s very difficult to back down and could be one of the best defensive bigs available in the draft. He ranked 1st in total rebounds in the 2019-2020 season per Tankathon. He also finished 3rd in total blocks over the course of the season. While he may not be the slimmest big man in the draft, his thick body type makes up for his height. He’s 6”9, which may be perfect for the way the league is moving with the modern big man. You don’t see many teams rolling out a starting lineup that includes two 7-foot big men. Stewart would be a great option for any team looking to add a big to their front court who could immediately step in and bring defense and rebounding to the table.

  • A Low-Post option

As mentioned before, Stewart has a wide frame. In the majority of his highlight reels, you’ll see clip after clip of him backing down defenders in the post and finishing strong. He shows patience and savviness under the rim with his solid footwork. He often forces defenders to bite on his pump-fakes before raising up to lay the ball in or draw contact. He also shows his ability to step out into the short corner and hit a decent mid-range when his defender gives him space. He’s unlikely to get those looks immediately upon entering the NBA, but he shows the ability to hit them. With his work ethic and some time with the Maverick coaching/development staff, I have full confidence that the mid-range pick and pop option could become a look that he gets a lot as he gets more time in the league.

  • Potential to grow

While this is an aspect that can’t be backed up by numbers, after interviewing NBA Analyst Jeremy Woo, Sports Illustrated’s Huskymaven writes, “There’s nothing overly flashy about Stewart’s game, as a throwback, high-energy rebounder who’s lauded for his work ethic and leadership,” Woo wrote. The same article reads, “Some see him as a potential 10-year NBA veteran who will be among the league’s rebounding leaders each year.” With a lot of high praise, being in a system that has organizational stability, good coaching, and a strong development staff could do wonders for a prospect like Stewart.

The Checklist

Role with the Mavericks

Stewart could prove to be a solid option as a back-up four or five to play next to Maxi, Dwight, or even KP. Pending Dwight’s recovery progress, Stewart could get an early look at fringe rotation minutes. Maxi is a great defender and he can score from the outside while also being a good PnR option. Stewart is more equipped to sit down on the block and back guys down while also giving them trouble on the defensive end. He could help KP out in certain situations defensively by taking on opposing big men that are more physical around the rim.

He could also provide to be a different kind of option for Rick Carlisle to use against some teams when he needs more defense in general. I could even see him getting the start from time to time (assuming Dwight is still out) when going up against a team like Philadelphia or Denver, who both have bigs that are physical and crafty down low. Kleber is a better perimeter defender than Stewart, but Stewart has more girth and strength that could allow him to body those guys around the paint. Stewart would provide to be another tool in Carlisle’s tool box for him to utilize whenever needed.

Summary

With Stewart being a young prospect with lots of room to grow, I think Dallas is a great place for him to be successful and continue to develop. We don’t have a player like him, and adding another type of big to Carlisle’s bullpen would only give him more flexibility and options when game planning. There were times this season when fans were calling for more rebounding and begging for defense, so Stewart might be just what those fans are dreaming of. While there may be other options that could better suit this roster, if he is available at 31 and some of those other options are off the table, Stewart could be a great option for the Mavericks.