An Arkansas great’s career as a Hog came to a close on Thursday, with Anthony Black being drafted sixth overall in the NBA Draft to the Orlando Magic. Black rose up draft boards throughout the season and took another jump on draft night after he was picked higher than most expected. Black brought an extreme amount of talent to Fayetteville, but his fans around the world will remember him most for his heart. The state of Arkansas now looks to Orlando, where he begins his new journey.
The 6 ‘7” guard now joins a group of young and talented players in Orlando, and he wants to bring the Magic’s franchise back out of the gutter, coming off a 34-48 record last season. It’s uncertain what Black’s role will be to start his rookie season, as the Orlando guard room is fairly packed. Black is a prototypical NBA guard, his long arms and tall frame makes him very hard to guard and gives him extreme defensive upside. His basketball IQ and NBA-ready playmaking should give him plenty of playing time right away.
It will be hard for anyone to beat out the unicorn that is Victor Wembanyama, but if anyone has the ability to, it’s Black. While his scoring is still fairly raw, his passing and defense are top notch, finishing 4th in the SEC in assists per game and 3rd in steals per game. Black can guard 1-4 due to his size, and can see over defenses as well. The only concern for Black is his shooting, but after working with Steph Curry’s trainer this off-season, Black tweaked his shot form and is now more consistent from three.
His setback may be the crowded backcourt in Orlando. A rising star in Franz Wagner, a finally healthy Markelle Fultz, and young guns Jalen Suggs and Cole Anthony may not give him the minutes he would get on other struggling teams. Rumors around the NBA world are swirling though, with many teams interested in trading for one of the guards, which could give Black a bigger opportunity.
The real way for Black to get a chance at Rookie of the Year depends on how much he’s involved in the offense. At Arkansas, Black was extremely ball dominant, and most of the offense ran through him. The plan for him in Orlando has not been mentioned yet, but I’d expect him to have a similar role there. It wouldn’t be a surprise if he led rookies in assists. The Black and Banchero pick-and-roll could be a staple for the Magic for years to come.
While it may be unlikely that anyone wins the ROTY title over Wembanyama, Black landed in a spot where he can thrive. Multiple all-star caliber players surrounding him and a fresh system from head coach Jamahl Mosley will give him the opportunity to thrive. It will be interesting to see how his season goes and how he adjusts to the NBA level of competition.