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2021 NBA Draft Coverage: Isaiah Todd

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Todd’s stock has been rising after he’s canceled workouts with teams with late first rounders. Does he fit with the Jazz?

NBA G League Playoffs - G League Ignite v Raptors 905 Photo by Juan Ocampo/NBAE via Getty Images

On July 13th, Shams had an interesting note in his column in the Athletic:

Before this, Todd had largely been viewed as a mid-second round prospect, in spite of his young age (19, turns 20 in October) and good shooting (36.2% 3PT and 82.4% FT in the G-League). This is largely due only being able to play 24 minutes a game for 15 games with the G-League Ignite team, starting only 2, and not flashing as much upside or extreme athleticism, especially in comparison to potential top 5 picks Jalen Green and Jonathan Kuminga. Now, arguably due to this one note from Shams, he’s risen in several mocks to exactly the teams he seems to be avoiding - several drafts project his selection around the 25th pick, but the large majority still put him in around the early 40s. So which reputation does Todd deserve - a selection by a very confident lottery team or multiple teams passing on him into the middle of the second?

Stats

Per game (G-League Ignite): 12.3 points, 4.9 rebounds, 0.8 assists, 0.5 steals, 0.7 blocks, 43.7% FG, 36.2% 3PT, 82.4% FT

Advanced: 53.0% True Shooting, 0.001 win shares per 48

Physical: 19 years old (turns 20 this October), 6’10” with a 7’1” wingspan and 8’11.5” standing reach, 205 pounds

Strengths

Todd’s biggest strengths lie around his very mature shooting for his age. The G-League is full of professionals trying to make it to the biggest stage, and Todd was able to operate and hold his own against much older, developed players. With his length and fluid stroke, he’s comfortable with catch-and-shoot threes in a stationary stance as well as sprinting off of curls and screens. His post-up skills are underrated, showing the ability to get off high-arcing turnaround jumpers a la Dirk, especially after operating in the mid-range/pinch post. Scouts also noticed his excellent passing and decision making, especially in the post, despite the relatively low assists numbers accrued – see the highlight at 5:06 in the above video. Some highlight-reel passes were just not finished, potentially because his teammates didn’t expect such a pass. If a team is able to unlock and make use of that part of Todd’s skill, the threat of his offense in the post will be further magnified.

Weaknesses

Despite Todd’s relative success in the midrange and in the post, which is a good tool to have, it obviously cannot be his main source of offense in the modern NBA. His tendency to try to score off the bounce and take long two jumpers, especially with a toe over the line, mitigated his overall impact making plays out of the post and as a shooter. A lot of that shows in his shot-making profile - only 18% of his makes in the G-League were unassisted, and 28% of his shots were from three. And, even though his shot looks excellent, he still only shot 36%; likewise, his flashes of excellent passing are overshadowed by a roughly 12% turnover rate (1.5 per game). He’ll need to commit to improving his shot and passing consistency, even if all the signs are there.

Todd also only had decent-to-good athleticism for a prospect his size, measuring with a 35.5” max vertical, one of the slowest 3-quarter sprints at 3.34s (tied for 3rd slowest out of all prospects measured), average lane agility and shuttle run times of 11.38 seconds (fastest/slowest: 10.45/12.70) and 3.25 seconds (fastest/slowest: 2.98/3.53), per athletes tested at this year’s combine. This led him to struggle as a driving threat and on the defensive end, lacking the ability to really move laterally despite a relatively light body. However, without this bulk and strength, he lacked the ability to truly defend in the post, or bully down low. I should note that, in spite of these limitations, he did better than expected on switches, but overall defensively he’s caught between the 4 and 5 - never a good sign.

Jazz Fit

I see Isaiah Todd as sort of LaMarcus Aldridge or Jaren Jackson Jr. lite. (Some scouts have said Chris Bosh lite, but I think that’s a stretch.) That’s pretty good for someone who most likely will be around at the 30th pick. His offensive capabilities would add many new wrinkles to the Jazz, and having a dynamic shooter that could potentially play at both the 4 and 5 is not something that the Jazz have. However, it’s very possible he becomes the next Noah Vonleh - a tantalizing prospect that never really puts it all together.

I do think he was overshadowed by his teammates on the Ignite team, but don’t buy that any lottery teams are seriously looking to make a gamble so early when he could be picked up by the late first. I wouldn’t be surprised if a team with multiple firsts or early seconds (e.g. Knicks with #19, #21, and #32, Houston with #2, #23 and #24, OKC with #6, #16, #18, #34, and #36) took a flyer on him in the late first, before the Jazz can snatch him at 30. Even with his defensive warts, there is great long-term potential if Todd develops well, immediately stepping into Georges Niang’s role and growing beyond it. If he is there at #30, I would definitely take a long, hard look.