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Three reasons why Isaiah Briscoe will make it in the NBA

Coming into college, New Jersey-native Isaiah Briscoe was considered the No. 1 point guard in America over the likes of five-star guards Jalen Brunson, Derryck Thornton, and PJ Dozier. He was known as a floor general, a relentless defender, and a “bully” when it came to getting to the rim and scoring.

Briscoe was set to become the next great Calipari guard at Kentucky.

Once it became known Tyler Ulis would be returning to school for his sophomore season, fans knew the 2015-16 backcourt had the potential to be something special. When Canadian scoring phenom Jamal Murray came in fold in June, it was guaranteed the Wildcats would maintain one of the most talented group of guards in the nation.

Upon making his way to campus, however, Briscoe would quickly turn from five-star bully scorer to third option behind the dominant one-two punch of Ulis and Murray. Playing out of position for the majority of the year, he became extremely inconsistent, but still gave it his all.

After testing the NBA Draft waters and working out for several teams, Briscoe returned to school in hopes of showing off an improved jumper and success from the free throw line.

Fast forward to the 2016-17 season, it was much of the same. Two five-star studs in De’Aaron Fox and Malik Monk manning the two guard positions with Briscoe left as the third option. He had his moments, he saved the team on several occasions, but he still wasn’t able to find his rhythm and become the dominant player he had hoped to be.

He’s officially gone from Kentucky, but his basketball career is far from over.

Here are three reasons why Isaiah Briscoe will make it in the NBA:

He’ll finally become the lead point guard

Let’s face it, Briscoe got the short end of the stick in his time at UK. How would he have known Tyler Ulis would return to school and become one of the best guards to ever put on a Kentucky uniform when he committed? How would he have known the best shooter in college basketball would come on the scene out of nowhere the way Jamal Murray did? Coach Cal never promises starting positions or playing time, but Briscoe fully expected to be the premier point guard.

The following year, he knew DeAaron Fox and Malik Monk were set to become Wildcats when he returned to school, but what choice did he have? He had abysmal shooting numbers his freshman year, and scouts said he had no business being in the NBA that soon. He had to make it work as a secondary option for a second straight year, and UK fans have to appreciate him for that. He gave a ridiculously young Kentucky team the veteran presence they needed, even if he wasn’t putting up mind-boggling numbers he originally hoped for.

In the pros, however, Briscoe will have the opportunity to come in and become “the guy.”

At Kentucky, his playing time as the primary ball-handler was scarce, playing off the ball on the wing the majority of the time.

Spoiler alert: Isaiah Briscoe is not a small forward, and he will never sniff the wing in the NBA. He did it at Kentucky to do what was best for the team, even if his own numbers and consistency suffered.

In the NBA, he’ll come off the bench or in the D-League as a point guard only. He’ll be able to do what he does best, rather than “making it work” as he did at Kentucky.

With the ball in his hands as the lead man, Briscoe’s game will change entirely, and his NBA career will thrive because of it.

Confidence will lead to better efficiency

The first two reasons go hand in hand, but both are equally important.

We all know Briscoe’s shooting woes from both the free throw line and behind the arc. There were times that any shot that left Briscoe’s hands beyond two feet was destined for failure. Before he got to Kentucky, however, the former Wildcat was actually considered a fairly impressive shooter. Hell, he even won the 3-point contest at the All-Star Game the summer before arriving on campus.

Without being the lead guy, Briscoe lost some major confidence in his shot resulting in major inconsistency.

In high school, Briscoe’s confidence was through the roof because he had the opportunity to be the head honcho. When he was able to get into a groove with the ball in his hands, there wasn’t a player in America that could stop him. Defenders were terrified of going heads-up with him because they knew their ankles were at risk to be shattered or put on the wrong side of a highlight tape at any given time.

Even coming off the bench in the NBA, just bringing the ball up the court on a regular basis as the primary ball handler and finding his groove will lead to a spike in consistency and confidence.

Zay will have the opportunity to be Zay again.

His game is suited perfectly for the NBA

Look around the NBA and find some of the most valuable role players on successful teams. Tony Allen on the Grizzlies, Marcus Smart on the Celtics, Jonathan Simmons for the Spurs, etc. They’re not the most gifted athletes, none of them are massive scoring threats, and they’re not going to kill you from behind the arc.

What do they all have in common? Defensive intensity.

If you can thrive as a defender with even mediocre offensive ability, you can make it in the league. Plain and simple.

Briscoe is a pit bull on defense and backs down from no one. Fans focus on his rough regular season matchup against UNC’s Justin Jackson, but Briscoe was one of the most consistent and tenacious defenders on the team. In many instances, he locked down the opposing team’s top option and fought on every possession with the help of his ridiculous 6’9 wingspan.

On offense, Briscoe rarely misses from around the rim, using his strength to get to the basket and finish in traffic. He made some frustrating turnovers throughout the year, but his knack for scoring the ball in the paint was second to none in college.

Take a look at former Wildcat Andrew Harrison. The Houston native was a solid college player, but fell to the second round of the 2014 NBA Draft due to shooting inconsistencies. Two years later, Harrison is getting major minutes and making impressive plays in the NBA Playoffs for the Memphis Grizzlies. He’s still not a deadeye shooter from deep or the most athletic guy in the world, but he makes up for it on defense and finishing at the rim.

Briscoe can easily follow a similar path.

According to DraftExpress, Briscoe is considered the No. 80 prospect in the NBA Draft and is expected to go undrafted, but don’t count him out.

Whether he is selected in the draft or not, Zay is going to turn heads in the league.


Article written by Jack Pilgrim

Follow me on Twitter: @JackPilgrimKSR

36 Comments for Three reasons why Isaiah Briscoe will make it in the NBA

  1. 8xchamp
    8:24 pm June 2, 2017 Permalink

    One reason he wont, he’s not that good

    • Penn Chaloaf
      9:40 pm June 2, 2017 Permalink


  2. Not Dan Issel
    8:32 pm June 2, 2017 Permalink

    I don’t know about that. Making it in the NBA requires a lot of “intangibles” that are hard to quantify. Briscoe has a lot of skill and determination that will aid him in his task. Lots of great college players never made it in the NBA. Plenty of “unknowns” turned out to be good players. I predict Briscoe will turn out to be a decent NBA player and have a nice career.

    • TBW3011
      8:48 am June 3, 2017 Permalink

      He’s ok at a lot of things. He’d be better off being really good at one thing and being a specialist. Not a single skill he has is on par with the NBA level. Not 1.

  3. vegascatfan
    9:06 pm June 2, 2017 Permalink

    Has someone told him he doesn’t get paid by the dribble?

    • Penn Chaloaf
      9:41 pm June 2, 2017 Permalink


  4. kjd
    9:16 pm June 2, 2017 Permalink

    He can’t shoot from outside. Can’t jump so will consistently get blocked at the rim. My vote: he doesn’t make it in the NBA.

    • JusSayin
      10:46 pm June 2, 2017 Permalink

      Last year when he was being guarded by other guards he finished at the rim at a high rate. It’s hard guarding 6’9 SFs at 6’2…. even harder to be guarded by them.

  5. BBNDan7
    9:19 pm June 2, 2017 Permalink

    His game is the exact opposite of “suited for the NBA”…

    • BCO
      11:17 am June 3, 2017 Permalink

      Exactly. He wont be able to bully his way to the rim as he did in college. Hes not fast, not athletic, and can’t shoot….his game is the opposite of NBA ready.

  6. maximumscott
    9:36 pm June 2, 2017 Permalink

    He will play overseas

  7. wes908
    9:39 pm June 2, 2017 Permalink

    None of you know anything about basketball and are fake Kentucky fans . Fair weather fans , I hope you know this run will end one day and coach cal won’t be there any more and this school will have to go back losing previously like it was. Enjoy it man Briscoe be a good NBA player , drafted or not! And Kentucky fans wasn behind him smh after he played his heart out for you guys .

  8. luke_emberton
    10:32 pm June 2, 2017 Permalink

    he’s not going to make it he can’t shoot and he can’t handle the basketball like a PG and not to mention he couldn’t be happier to leave UK when he clearly isn’t NBA ready

  9. Kevin C
    10:51 pm June 2, 2017 Permalink

    He’s made it VERY clear his time at UK is done, and he has no interest in talking about it any longer, so there’s really no need to continue with these articles. He’s gone…NEXT!

    • BBNDan7
      3:46 am June 3, 2017 Permalink

      Yeah he made that clear when he hired an agent a** hat..

  10. blackmilk23
    11:02 pm June 2, 2017 Permalink

    I’ll never understand the Briscoe hate.

    – Came to UK and bulked up because Cal needed him to play small-forward even though he was recruited as a PG. Never complianed about it.

    – Was a great teammate and leader. Never got in trouble.

    – Came back and improved his freethrow and 3 point shooting by almost 20 percent.

    – CONTRARY TO POPULAR BELIEF: In the only two games he started at PG (UGA and Florida) he actually played well. 23, 11 and 8 in the UGA game. Missed too many free throws against FLA but still shot well, had 9 points, 8 rebounds AND held Kasey Hill (who killed us the first time) to 4 points.

    And now people are mad because he had the AUDACITY to ask for legit questions in an interview after Kyle Tucker asked him a question about Space Aliens and then 6 questions about Malik Monk and North Carolina.

    I don’t get why people hate this guy so much.

    • BBNDan7
      3:47 am June 3, 2017 Permalink

      Tucker’s question was a joke that you obviously missed

    • TBW3011
      8:51 am June 3, 2017 Permalink

      He weighed more at this combine than he did playing last season. He gained weight here because he’s lazy, not because it was some master plan to not play point guard.

    • blackmilk23
      11:52 am June 3, 2017 Permalink

      No he was fat in HS. He got more cut and put on muscle working with Rock Oliver… and muscle weighs more than fat.

      They talked about conditioning on KSR all summer in 2015. Look it up.

  11. chris43
    6:32 am June 3, 2017 Permalink

    I could be bad wrong but I watch a TON of basketball and I do not see him making it in the NBA. He’ll be lucky to even play in the D league. I’m not trying to be rude but these are simple cold hard facts: he doesn’t have great size, doesn’t have great speed, doesn’t play above the rim (dude can barely dunk), he doesn’t have great floor vision, and most of all he’s a below average shooter. His strength in college was bullying smaller players getting to the rim. He won’t be able to do that in the NBA even with the guards not counting the elite rim protectors that all NBA teams have compared to NCAA.

  12. TBW3011
    8:41 am June 3, 2017 Permalink

    1. No discernible skill that translates to the NBA. 2. Horrendous shooter. 3. Attitude.

  13. bigb
    9:17 am June 3, 2017 Permalink

    Not NBA material

  14. I like the argument that he wasn’t good enough to be UK’s pg but he’ll somehow be the best pg on a NBA team. LOL.

  15. cking
    9:59 am June 3, 2017 Permalink

    This article is terrible..Briscoe should have came back to school.

    Same for Isaac…both could have improved their stock.

    Nothing more than delusional visions of grandeur.

    • poppycat
      11:11 am June 3, 2017 Permalink

      Great opportunity to be the PG for 17/18 if he wanted to prove himself……
      A JR PG vs a FR for pt……….just prove yourself.
      Seems every 5* @ UK thinks they are OAD.

  16. EdC
    10:22 am June 3, 2017 Permalink

    I like Briscoe a lot other than his punk moves on the floor, the mouthing at opponents, tripping, cheap shots, etc. His hustle, etc. were fantastic and somewhat contagious. With that said, to say that he couldn’t start in front of other UK point guards but suddenly going to be considered a premier point guard for an NBA team or even a D league team is just stupid.

    His game may be perfect for the NBA (I don’t agree) but even if it is, his athleticism and size AREN’T. He isn’t going to slash by NBA guards other than maybe Austin Rivers and on the occasion he does he will get blocked at a much higher percentage.

    I wish him well but it won’t be in the NBA.

    • blackmilk23
      11:53 am June 3, 2017 Permalink

      He performed well against elite future NBA/D-League guards at the combine. I think he carve out a niche as a backup utility player.

    • EdC
      7:01 pm June 3, 2017 Permalink

      We’ll see but combine is not the same as playing against Wall, Westbrook, etc.

  17. kyle heavy
    10:57 am June 3, 2017 Permalink

    It’s obvious to me that Jack Pilgrim is just trying to create conversation and get some clicks because he can’t actually think Briscoe will make it in the NBA.

  18. t_f_licker
    11:04 am June 3, 2017 Permalink

    I’ve kinda moved on from Isaiah Briscoe.

  19. mikep
    11:32 am June 3, 2017 Permalink

    Briscoe will make an NBA team and will finally get to play point guard. He just got stuck behind 2 of the best point guards to ever attend Kentucky. Good luck Isaiah I look forward to following you in the NBA.

    • catdaddyd
      12:33 pm June 3, 2017 Permalink

      In the Nigerian Basketball Association.

  20. Luether
    3:46 pm June 3, 2017 Permalink

    Not one of your better posts, Jackie boy.

    Three reasons why Isaiah Briscoe won’t make it in the NBA:
    1) He can’t shoot.
    2) He can’t shoot.
    3) He can’t shoot.