A star freshman at Arkansas that was part of the school’s greatest freshman class in history, Anthony Black earned All-Freshman honors in the SEC as a one & done guard. A Dallas area native, Black checks out in terms of character, having a positive attitude and working through adversity. On the year, Black averaged 12.8 PPG, 5.1 RPG, 3.9 APG, 2.1 SPG, 0.6 BPG, and 3 TOPG on splits of 45/30/70.5. Below is his full scouting report:
Name: Anthony Black
Wingspan/ standing reach: 6’7 ½/8’6 ½
Hand size: 9 ½
Position: Combo guard
Pre-Draft team: Arkansas
Tools: Frame, upside, athleticism
- Ideal size for a ball-handler
- Good athlete
- Can get downhill and to the rim easily
- Has good defensive tools in footspeed + size
- Good motor
- Smooth in the pick & roll
- Intel & character are strong; has overcome adversity and won teams over in pre-draft meetings/visits
- Forces lots of turnovers
- Excellent defensive awareness
- Good rebounder
- Doesn’t rush/force transition offense; knows when to speed up or slow down tempo
- Can be a bit slow to react to defense, forcing clogged offense or turnovers
- Needs to refine PG skills; still raw running offense
- Needs to get stronger
- Slow, set jump shot
- Mediocre wingspan relative to height
- Alarming shooting indicators and needs to improve jump shot consistency
- Needs to become more disciplined on defense and to improve defending the P&R
- Should look to add a runner to his game; only 6/20 on runners for the year
Anthony Black is a unique prospect given his size, playmaking, defense, and potential room for improvement as a shooter.
Defensively, while Anthony Black has good tools (quick feet, size/length), he struggles to close out possessions sometimes on-ball. He bites on fakes easily after the dribble has been picked up, and he has a tendency to overcommit to the momentum of the ball-handler. Additionally, Black gets gobbled up in screens, which may make him a negative pick & roll defender early in his career.
Luckily, with a good motor and projectable tools, he should be able to grow into becoming a good defender under the right NBA development program. As he learns defensive tactics, schemes, and brushes up on some habits, as well as when he adds more noticeable strength to bulk up his frame, Anthony Black has significant defensive potential to be able to lock down multiple positions and to be a clearly positive defender. What Black lacks against screens defensively, he more than makes up for with his motor, constant & accurate rotations, and defensive playmaking to read plays before they happen.
As a playmaker, Anthony Black is patient before pulling the trigger on passes, which makes his upside as he continues to hone in on mastering his strengths so high. Arkansas was poorly spaced, which should make NBA GMs’ eyes light up at the thought of him operating with more space in five out offenses, with stretch bigs, and better P&R targets. Black uses his explosiveness towards the rim to his advantage as well, being able to both change pace easily, and he can quickly distribute out of drives. While Black struggles with some ball security and overall turnovers, and has since high school, as he adds strength and continues to monitor wolves on defense, his assist-to-turnover ratio should only climb in the NBA with more talent around him to convert more of his passes.
The one area that holds Anthony Black back from being a premier, top 5 prospect is his questionable jump shooting. With a set shot that is easily contestable, he will need to improve his jump shooting, and will likely have to earn respect of defenses in the NBA as an off-ball threat by hitting his uncontested jumpers.
In a way, Black is a bit of ‘process over results’ right now, with an outstanding frame and intangibles that can potentially get those results to come around with more reps and more work behind the scenes.
Fit with Mavs:
While the Mavs’ top positional need isn’t a guard, adding Anthony Black (if he is there) is about filling roles and adding more versatility to the backcourt. At the moment, there is only one player on the team that can handle the ball and run offense in slow offense that is over 6’5, and that is Luka Doncic. There also is really no player beyond Kyrie Irving and Jaden Hardy that can easily attack closeouts, which Black does. Additionally, only Josh Green has true versatility in guarding both point guards and wings, and he is facing a contract year. Adding Black provides both high upside and a unique floor of versatility on both ends of the floor that the Mavs currently do not have on their roster. On top of that, Black truly has All-Defense upside, which the Mavs will need in the long-run as an attempt to both surround Luka’s strengths and minimize his weaknesses.
Similar to: Delon Wright, Elfrid Payton, Shaun Livingston, Dwyane Wade lite
Projected draft range: 6-10
Expected role: Defensive stopper with point guard traits as a mismatch guard at 6’7
Unplayable if: Lack of jump shooting limits his effectiveness in other areas, making him more of a role player than a starter level Swiss Army Knife.
Exceeds expectations if: Jump shooting becomes passable and defenders have to, at a minimum, close out on his shot, while his defense, playmaking, and slashing translate at a high level.