Arkansas Razorbacks point guard Anthony Black is one of the most highly prized prospects in the 2023 NBA Draft. A tall lead guard with a high basketball IQ and situational awareness, Black doesn't project to be an All-Star at the next level because he doesn't focus on scoring. Nonetheless, Black can play a valuable role for teams that already have scorers and not only need a player capable of setting the table for his teammates but of slowing down the competition as well.
As far as point guards go in not only the 2023 NBA Draft but future drafts as well, teams will be hard-pressed to find many players — if any — that can provide the type of impact that Black can.
2023 NBA Draft profile for Arkansas star Anthony Black
Born in Duncanville, TX, Arkansas Razorbacks point guard Anthony Black is listed at 6-foot-7 and 198 pounds. The 19-year-old true freshman has played an integral role for the Razorbacks, helping lead them to a 22-13 record alongside fellow 2023 NBA Draft lottery projection Nick Smith, junior guard Ricky Council IV, and freshman forward Jordan Walsh.
Averaging 12.6 points, 5.1 rebounds, 4.0 assists, and 2.0 steals per game, Black leads his team in total assists (140) and steals (69), while ranking second on the team in total points (440), free-throws (125), and rebounds (178). Black also ranks third on the team this season in total blocks (22).
The conversation about Black's strengths on the offensive end should start with his passing ability and basketball IQ.
Black is capable squeezing pinpoint passes into tight spaces but also is completely fine with making the simple read rather than the flashy play. As a player who could feasibly play a point-forward role at the next level due to his size, his inclination to keep the ball moving will be invaluable for teams where the rock often gets stuck in a player's hands. Furthermore, Black is consistently capable of manipulating defenders with his actions or eyes, often freeing up space for his teammates to knock down a wide-open shot.
Black is also a solid driver who will either saunter all the way down the lane until he reaches the paint or use his change-of-direction ability to create space off-the-dribble. He also has proven himself to be quite the threat in transition, whether he leads the fast break or finishes it.
In the halfcourt, Black has a penchant for using his body to create space for a mid-range pull-up. The midrange pull-ups are perhaps as important as any other tool in his offensive arsenal, but Black has also demonstrated the ability to be an efficient 3-point threat on catch-and-shoot attempts.
Last but not least, because Black isn't afraid to get into the teeth of the defense and plays at a relatively methodical pace, he also finds himself at the free-throw line a fair amount.
Although capable of making plays above-the-rim, the type of top-end athleticism that one might see from a player like Ja Morant would make Black an exhilarating player at his size. Not only because of the highlight reel plays that fans would be likely to see but because it would make scoring a whole lot easier for a player with a simplistic offensive attack.
That being said, Black could afford to sharpen up his focus on simple things, including making safer passes and knocking down his free-throw attempts. Although Black is capable of making a wide array of passes, hesitation or overconfidence have led to a few unnecessary turnovers. At the charity stripe, Black is shooting just 69.8 percent despite averaging 5.1 free-throw attempts per game.
Furthermore, although it's not necessarily a weakness, Black could stand to make use his combination of size, strength, and agility more to take advantage of mismatches. Whether he opts to post up smaller defenders more and build on his nascent footwork or to use his quickness to blow by bigger players, he would be viewed as a better scoring threat.
Defense is the most exciting aspect of Black's game and will likely be the defining characteristic of his career. While NBA comparison often prove foolhardy, a few minutes of film will show that Black make an impact similar to defensive-minded guards like Jrue Holiday, Marcus Smart, Lonzo Ball.
His length at 6-foot-7 helps him blanket opposing backcourt players and has even led to him making blocks beyond the arc, a skill that Holiday is quite known for. However, Black's timing and anticipation are what stand out the most, as he shows a natural knack for reading an opposing player. His skills, both tangible and intangible, are what's led to him averaging the third-most steals in the SEC.
Two underrated defensive skills that standout when watching Black are his ability to navigate through screens and his presence on the glass. Both skills are undoubtedly helped by his physique. Nonetheless, in the NBA, it's difficult to find guards that don't have too much trouble with screen navigation. It's even more difficult to find guards that will put their body on the lines to close out a defensive possession.
Rookie Year Projection
Depending on what team selects Anthony Black in the 2023 NBA Draft, his breakout season may not come in his rookie year. A team that sees Black in a high usage role may want to develop his scoring game and give him enough reps and knowledge to be a full-time lead guard.
However, another team may see Anthony Black as more of a point-forward rather than point guard, focusing on his strength training. That team will undoubtedly work with Black on his shooting form for 3-point attempts and free-throws as well.
As a result, it's difficult to project just how Black will fare in his rookie season. That being said, given his all-around skillset, Black will likely fill up the box score on multiple nights. Especially if he plays a high-usage role or plays heavy minutes.
Projected Pro Role
Similar to a player like Lonzo Ball or Michael Carter-Williams, Black should be a full-time starting point guard.
The team will run smoothly with him as the primary facilitator, especially if there's a veteran guard on the roster that can help coach him up, or further expand the range of passes he's adept at making. Nonetheless, Black could also play a Luka Doncic or Ben Simmons-like role in that he's the de facto point guard –particularly on the offensive end — but is often tasked with guarding bigger players.
To determine the best role for him, the team that drafts him simply has to put him out there and assess his decision-making and ability to defend athletic lead guards at the next level.
Current Draft Projection
Anthony Black is currently projected to be a top-5 pick in the 2023 NBA Draft but shouldn't fall out of the lottery, no matter what. Although Black isn't a high-volume scorer, and that will likely factor into a team's ranking of him, Black is still an excellent point guard prospect that could shine in the NBA with more space and talent around him.
Two teams projected to be in the lottery that could be a fit for Black are the Houston Rockets and Washington Wizards. While the Rockets need a bonafide point guard to make life easier for their young collection of talented scorers, the Wizards need a starting point guard that they can lean on defensively.
To that point, Black is likely to be the second point guard taken off the board after G League Ignite sensation Scoot Henderson due to his combination of size and skill.
Nonetheless, Kentucky Wildcats point guard Cason Wallace could also hear his name called as the second point guard off the board, as he has more of a scoring mindset than Black but is also an impactful defender as well. The biggest advantage that Black has over Wallace is his size, as Wallace is three inches shorter at 6-foot-4 (still more than tall enough for a point guard prospect).