Before the 2019 NBA Draft arrives, Peachtree Hoops will break down more than 70 available prospects with an eye toward what the Atlanta Hawks may look to do in late June.
This installment centers on Nebraska’s Isaiah Roby.
Isaiah Roby came to the Nebraska Cornhuskers back in 2016 as a three-star prospect and, by proxy, little NBA promise. However, over the last two seasons, he has shown major growth and now is a possible target for teams in the second round.
Roby stands at 6’8 and tips the scales at 230 pounds. That, too, is an improvement from his freshman season. He’s put on quite a bit of muscle and his 7’3 wingspan jumps off the page immediately. Possibly the best part about Roby is that he isn’t too old yet at just 21.
Roby’s best tool at the next level will be his defense. He uses his feet incredibly well and his length allows him to be sound against bigger bodies and his athleticism allows him to take on guards on the perimeter. Roby is one of the few players in college basketball that can guard almost every position and not look completely lost. He’s somewhat like Andre Roberson as he can manage guarding a point in switches, but you wouldn’t necessarily want him to be on guards 24/7.
Another advantage for Roby is that he isn’t by any means still a raw prospect. After being at Nebraska for three seasons, his game has become quite refined and he’s probably one of the few second round guys that could come in day one and play real NBA minutes. By no means is he overly polished, but he knows how to make the easy swim pass and where he needs to rotate to on defense.
He also has quite good instincts in the pick and roll game. He’s able to get behind the defense quite often and plays above the rim much like John Collins does. Roby is not quite as athletically gifted as Collins, but he can get off the floor.
Probably Roby’s best tool at the next level will be his pick and pop game. He shot 45% from the field last season, a disappointing 33% from three after shooting 41% from distance as a Sophomore. His shot form is repeatable, but his lower body will need some cleaning up as he routinely gets caught shooting off of one leg or not getting completely squared up to the rim before launching from deep.
Roby’s biggest weakness will be creating for others. He gets tunnel vision quite often and tries to do a bit too much by forcing shots at the rim. Roby has some feel for what to do around the rim and can finish through contact well, but when he puts the ball on the floor more bad than good usually comes from it.
Roby projects as an NBA-quality player, and it simply comes down to where teams value him. He’s one of the more solid prospects projected to go in the second round and it wouldn’t surprise anyone to see him go early on in the second. He might profile better as a three in the NBA if he can clean up his jump shot, but the lack of a reliable dribble might limit him to become a stretch four at his ceiling. Roby likely will never be a starter, but he has the opportunity to be a great role player.
It would be very possible for Roby to fall into the Hawks pick range in the early second round. Potential would be there for a good marriage, as Lloyd Pierce is a noted defense-first coach, and Roby projects as a defense-first player.
The offensive side of his game in Atlanta would be predicated on his ability to spot up from distance and be a good slasher. For Roby, there probably aren’t many situations out there that would be better than Atlanta. The Hawks would not likely ask him to create for others immediately (which is perhaps his biggest weakness) and he would have a chance to develop into an elite one-on-one defender for a team that desperately needs defense.
A team could very easily fall in love with Roby late in the first round, but the likelihood is that the Hawks could snatch him early in the second if they value what he brings to the table. Stay tuned.