Nets eye intriguing sleeper Isaiah Joe in 2020 NBA Draft

With the draft approaching, a common thread is the Nets having eyed some of the best shooters in this class. Isaiah Joe is yet another potential floor spacer.

Despite an injury-interrupted campaign, Joe still managed to lead the SEC in 3-pointers both this past season and over the last two years (207). For a Nets team in danger of losing another Joe — former NBA 3-point champ Joe Harris — in free agency, the Arkansas sophomore is an intriguing sleeper.

The Nets have the 19th and 55th picks, while Joe has been projected between 34 and 38 in four mock drafts over the past two weeks. He’s talked with both the Knicks and Nets, the former devoid of shooting and the latter looking for both insurance against Harris and complements for Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving.

“Right off the bat my shooting means a lot to a team, being able to stretch the floor, keep moving, space out and occupy a defender. Right off the bat that’s something a team can utilize from me,” Joe said via Zoom. “And with my defensive IQ, I feel like I’m in the right spot all the time, take charges.

“Right now one of the biggest things is putting on weight and muscle. I’m continually working on my ballhandling; I’m a capable ballhandler, so if a team needs me to bring the ball up, I can do that. But at the end of the day I keep the main thing the main thing; I want to be the best shooter on the floor at all times.”

Joe’s stats — and draft stock — don’t match up with his stroke, partly due to injury.

Isaiah Joe
Isaiah JoeAP

As a freshman, Joe hit a torrid 41.4 percent from behind the arc on eight attempts a game. And this season he averaged 18.2 points as one of the top perimeter defenders in the country through the first 15 games, while averaging 20.4 points and 41.2 percent from deep in his first three SEC tilts before hurting his right knee.

Joe managed to limp through the injury, but averaged just 9.2 points on 27.7 percent shooting from deep in five of the next six tilts — including suffering the first scoreless game of his career. His explosion and defensive mobility took a hit as well, before eventually breaking down and having arthroscopic surgery.

“The injury definitely happened and my numbers dropped during that time,” Joe said. “During those five or six games I was injured my numbers did plummet; but my coach [Eric Musselman] and team felt it was best for me to be out the court occupying a defender, stretching the floor, which I did.

“Some of the teams, they know about the injury and took that into view. But some I had to explain it to, the games I played healthy versus some I played injured. I think after explaining it to them, I think they got a better eye on things.”

Upon returning to the lineup, Joe did average 20 points and get back to playing stout defense. And while his shot creation off the dribble was among the best in the country — 97th and 88th percentile over the past two years — he’s been working in Arkansas with a trainer set up by agent Mike Conley Sr. on situations like catch-and-shoot looks, coming off screens, and arguably most important, his frame.

“One of my biggest things is putting on weight and muscle, which I am during this time,” said Joe, who arrived at Arkansas spreading just 167 pounds across his willowy 6-foot-5 frame. This past season he was listed at 175 pounds and is up to 180, his draft stock rising as well.

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