Arkansas guard Isaiah Joe certainly isn’t afraid to fire away from 3-point range.
Only three players in all of Division I college basketball averaged more 3-pointers made a game than the Razorbacks’ sophomore. He nailed more than 3.6 3-pointers a game on 34.2% shooting last season while averaging 16.9 points, 4.1 rebounds, and 1.7 assists.
That kind of 3-point shooting is something NBA teams are thirsting for these days. It’s likely why the Toronto Raptors are one of the many teams that have already interviewed Joe ahead of the November 2020 NBA Draft.
The biggest concern with the 6-foot-5, 180-pound guard is his shooting percentages. After shooting 41.3% from the floor and 41.4% from 3-point range in his freshman season, his shooting percentages dropped to 36.7% and 34.2%, respectively, in his sophomore season. A lot of that, however, had to do with a knee injury that Joe battled through before eventually needing surgery in February.
“My numbers did drop during that time,” Joe said of playing through the injury.
When Joe is on, he’s a lights-out shooter who can nail catch-and-shoot 3s with ease.
“The question is whether he’s more of a one-dimensional specialist, or if he can be more than that,” Sports Illustrated’s draft expert Jeremy Woo wrote of Joe who he ranked the 33rd best prospect in the 2020 NBA Draft. “Given the leaguewide premium on players who can space the floor, it’s a reasonable bet that Joe can carve out an NBA role.”
Being tabbed as a specialist isn’t something that particularly concerns Joe who said he’s spent his offseason trying to keep improving his 3-point shooting, his catch-and-shoot ability, and his off-the-dribble shot.
“At the end of the day I’m going to keep the main thing the main thing, I want to be the best shooter on the court at all times,” he said.
Part of what makes Joe such a deadly shooter is his flexible and quick release. He’s willing to fire away without hesitation, either off the catch or a quick dribble, the way some of the NBA’s best 3-pointers shoot.
“One big thing about my game is getting shots up with limited dribbles, I see players like Klay Thompson, JJ Reddick, Buddy Hield, they’re very good at getting up shots up quick with zero dribbles, maybe two or three dribbles, but they don’t overdribble the ball, they get to where they need to, they knock down their shot,” Joe said. “That’s a big aspect of my game I’m continuing to work on.”
If the Raptors like the development sharpshooter Matt Thomas showed in his rookie season, drafting Joe might be redundant, but considering the way the NBA is going with the 3-point revolution, having another shooter who teams have to respect can never be a bad thing.