The Trail Blazers’ memorable postseason run might be over, but the the 2019 NBA Draft is right around the corner. Portland’s President of Basketball Operations Neil Olshey currently has the No. 25 pick in the draft at his disposal and he will look to supplement the Blazers’ roster with a talented prospect in the latter stages of the first round. Regardless of Portland’s lack of a pick in the second round, Olshey has shown a willingness to negotiate his way back into the selection process. Today we look at Nebraska Cornhuskers forward Isaiah Roby.
- Height: 6’8.5”
- Weight: 214
- Wingspan: 7’1”
- Shooting Hand: Right
- Position: SF/PF
- Age: 21
- Projected draft range: 37-50
- PTS: 11.8 | Per 40: 15.2
- REB: 6.9 | Per 40: 8.9
- BLK: 1.9 | Per 40: 2.4
- STL: 1.3 | Per 40: 1.6
- FG%: 45.4
- 3P%: 33.3 (84 attempts)
- FT%: 67.7
Hidden behind the curtain of Cornhuskers basketball is the versatile two-way play of Isaiah Roby. Over the course of three seasons with Nebraska, Roby has proven he has the athleticism to create highlight-worthy plays on both ends of the court. Offensively, Roby is comfortable bringing the ball up the court he is a big-time finisher if he finds space in the lane. Roby showed signs of expanding his shooting range and doubled his three-point attempts last season. On defense, he is a constant threat to come over as a help defender and alter shots. Roby combines his superb 7-foot-1 wingspan with his lateral quickness to keep opponents contained when guarding in space. It is early, but Roby showed signs of expanding his shooting range and doubled his three-point attempts last season.
Roby’s versatility is his most attractive trait. Throughout the year, he seamlessly slid between all three frontcourt positions.
Once you remove Roby’s thunderous dunks, his offensive repertoire gets thin in a hurry. The Illinois native will have to add bulk to his frame if he hopes to compete against NBA-level post players. Roby routinely struggled to finish through contact and produced just 3.8 free throws per game when he did encounter pressure. On the perimeter, he is far from a finished product as a shooter. By attacking hasty close outs delivered by slow-footed big men, Roby’s effectiveness received a favorable boost. It is unlikely he will enjoy the same advantage at the next level.
After a stellar start to the season, the Cornhuskers fell flat in Big Ten competition. Out of the national spotlight, Roby put together three double-double outings. Roby played a central role in Nebraska’s offense and he nearly doubled his field goal attempts per game compared to his sophomore campaign. The Cornhuskers fell short of earning a NCAA Tournament bid, but they did compete in the NIT. In an opening round victory over Butler, Roby connected on nine of his 12 attempts from the field for 28 points.
Roby has the makings of a position-less defender capable of swinging momentum with blocks and dunks. At 21 years old, there are significant questions about his ceiling. Conversely, his feature role for the Cornhuskers sets Roby’s floor at a reasonable level for a player slotted to be taken in the early stages of the second round. At worst, Roby should find a niche due to his defense. His instincts as a shot blocker combine with his lateral quickness to make him a plug-and-play option in modern schemes.
The Blazers’ need for three-point shooting outside of the backcourt makes Roby’s fit in Portland clunky. His defense pairs nicely with Zach Collins—especially when facing perimeter-centric offenses. However, without a proven outside shot, he would provide little relief on the opposite end. From a roster construction standpoint, Roby would give the Blazers a low-cost reserve forward that can play spot minutes in defense-first situations. Selecting the former Cornhuskers standout at No. 25 would be considered a reach, but Roby is an intriguing prospect to consider if Portland finds its way into the second round.
Do you want to see Roby in a Blazers jersey next season? Tell us your thoughts in the comments below.