The 2023 NBA Draft is loaded full of talent and now the draft profiles have entered the bonafide top ten picks. Anthony Black entered a star-studded Arkansas Razorbacks team that had high expectations. With multiple injuries early in the year the team faltered some but recovered well for March Madness. While every freshman has ups and downs in their first season, Black was the bright spot for the Razorbacks in his freshman campaign. Black likely won’t crack into the top five because of the other talent, but he is almost certainly a top-ten selection in the loaded class. In most draft classes he would easily be a top-five selection and the fact that he isn’t here says more about the talent of the class.
Anthony Black possessed the ability to be an elite passer and playmaker at the NBA level. It jumps off the page as perhaps his most NBA-ready skill. His vision and passing ability rank as one of the best in the 2023 NBA Draft. He can also use his ability as a playmaker to get himself or his teammates open. Despite being a freshman he showcased his calm and cool decision-making in crunch time. Black did not originally commit to the Razorbacks to be the guard that ran the offense, but quickly took over the role after some players got injured. He thrived in the role and did not surrender it when those players were healthy. His vision paired with good decision making makes him a unique prospect coming into the NBA.
This past season with the Arkansas Razorbacks, Black averaged 3.9 assists per game. Despite the inconsistent play from his teammates due to injuries, he still put up solid numbers from a passing standpoint. While he does need to clean up the turnovers, the potential as a lead guard is undeniable for NBA scouts. While the NBA is all about scoring, someone has to get those players the ball and run the offense. Black is capable of doing that at an NBA level.
Despite being a guard, Anthony Black has the size of the average NBA forward. Taller guards have become a more common aspect of the NBA and a hot commodity when available in NBA Drafts. Black could feasibly play point guard, shooting guard, or small forward in a traditional NBA lineup. Standing at 6’7″ he could even stretch to power forward in a small ball lineup. The main issue for now is he needs to add to his frame, but should be able to once he hits an NBA weight room. Black is listed at right around 200 pounds and could use the muscle that age and a weight room will add in the next few years. His wingspan has not been officially measured yet, but the Arkansas forward has a long reach and knows exactly how to use it while on the court. Black is the type of guard that NBA teams are beginning to favor when they draft talented players in the lottery.
Pairing size and defense is a surefire way to get noticed by NBA teams and to get drafted early any year. Anthony Black showcased himself as an above-average defender on and off the ball while playing in the SEC last year. With the Razorbacks e averaged 2.1 steals and 0.6 blocks per game as a freshman. Defense tends to improve once a player gets more comfortable in the NBA and if Black gets better he could become one of the NBA’s premier lockdown defenders. Versatility also projects to be an asset for the incoming rookie forward. Black could reasonably guard the one through three from day one. With some fine-tuning, he may also stretch his defensive game to the four. Pairing him with the right system could help him grow into one of the best defenders in the NBA one day.
Unlike most lottery prospects in this year’s draft, the most glaring issue for Anthony Black is actually his ability to score. While he has shown potential, his shooting especially will need some major tuning before he will be a reliable NBA scorer. Fortunately for him, his mechanics are good and he could potentially fix his most glaring issue. At Arkansas, he averaged just 12.8 points per game with a field goal percentage of 45.3 percent and a three-point percentage of 30.1 percent. He also shot just 70.5 percent from the free throw line which just overall raises more concerns about his ability to score. Because of his size and the things teams will ask him to do, Black will need to add more strength once he gets to the NBA. This will help him when he’s scoring inside and on the defensive end. For a lot of prospects, these issues would hurt their stock, but Black is oozing with potential and will stay in the top ten.
NBA Comparison: Lonzo Ball
Coming out of high school, Lonzo Ball was also a tantalizing prospect with a questionable jump shot. His early career and improvement as a shooter are nearly a perfect model for Anthny Black entering the 2023 NBA Draft. Tall athletic point guards are the present and future of the NBA which means that players like Black will be incredibly popular in each NBA Draft. With that being said, shooting is also vital and serious work will need to be done before he is ready to be a key contributor on offense. With his athletic ability and defensive skills, Black will be an early contributor to a team despite the lack of offense. The Arkansas guard may not be a superstar in the NBA, but he could one day be the glue to an NBA Championship team. That alone would be worth a top ten pick to every team in the league.