Washington basketball’s star freshman has officially declared for the 2020 NBA Draft
Isaiah Stewart had one of the best seasons a freshman has ever had with Washington basketball. During his only year in purple and gold, Stewart led the team in points (17), rebounds (8.8), and blocks (2.1) per game. He was named as a semi-finalist for the Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Award, and was honored on the All Pac-12 First Team and All Pac-12 Freshman First Team during his only season. Stewart also held the team’s highest GPA through the fall quarter.
Projecting Stewart at the NBA level has been a tough task for most draft experts, even though Stewart should be considered among the elite prospects in this class, and deserves to be taken with a top 10 pick. The 6’9, 250 pounder projects best as a power forward at the next level, with his fully developed arsenal of post moves and the ability to finish with both hands. He brings impressive finesse to go along with immense power down low, and he certainly won’t struggle against taller defenders.
The effort and energy he puts into the defensive end is a desirable trait for any NBA team. The Draymond Green-esque energy and passion Stewart puts into his defense is rare at the professional level, and he would bring a huge boost to whatever team decides to select him. He’s athletic enough to switch on to guards and take them on the perimeter, or square up against anybody in the post.
No prospect is perfect, and Stewart is no exception to that, but he has as high of a ceiling as anyone in this draft class. He’s a good free throw shooter and has an excellent stroke on his jumper, it just doesn’t fall as often as an NBA team might like from the field. If he can continue to improve his midrange game and add in a little from three-point range (Stewart shot 5/20 from beyond the arc during his time at Washington), he could be a number one scoring threat for any offense in the ever-evolving NBA.
It’s incredibly hard to project where Stewart will land at this point, with no draft order even close to being projectible at this point and with other prospects still declaring, but if Stewart does fall due to concerns about his size or ability to adapt his style to play in the modern NBA, as most draft experts have him projected to do, whatever lucky team can get their hands on him should consider themselves incredibly lucky, because they’re getting the best player in this draft class.