Grading every Orlando Magic 2023 Draft pick
Anthony Black, Arkansas
The Orlando Magic were linked to all sorts of players in the pre-draft process, with popular choices being Ausar Thompson of the Overtime Elite and Taylor Hendricks of UCF. In the end, however, Thompson was off the board by the sixth pick and the Magic went for backcourt help over another forward.
That was certainly understandable given their roster situation.
They have long-term starters at all three frontcourt positions in Franz Wagner, Paolo Banchero and Wendell Carter. As a rebuilding team you never want to value fit too highly over player value.
But at some point, the Magic need to figure out their starting backcourt and taking a guard was always going to make sense at No. 6.
The problem for the Magic is that there was not a point guard available with pull-up shooting chops. After Scoot Henderson, that player did not really exist anywhere in the first-round range, depending on what you thought of Kobe Bufkin and Jalen Hood-Schifino’s ability to be a point guard.
Adding to the backcourt meant either sacrificing the playmaking or the shooting.
Unsurprisingly, the Magic valued the playmaking over the shooting. And it is hard to blame them given everything else Anthony Black brings to the table. He is a 6-foot-6 point guard who is not simply a good passer but loves to pass, an unselfish floor general who tries to put his teammates in the best positions to succeed.
He is a pick-and-roll champ, has a tight enough handle and enough shake to maneuver through the defense, and can finish well.
Defensively he is a true thief, generating steals on-ball and off-ball, with a preternatural ability to know where the ball is going and get his hand there. He should be a really good defender in the NBA.
The problem is his shot. He shoots a low percentage from the line and from deep and is reluctant to take jumpers as well.
If that develops into a league-average weapon, Anthony Black can be a De’Aaron Fox type of impact player. If it does not, he is going to struggle to be a long-term starter.
When you factor in that the Magic already have two on-ball guards who play excellent defense and cannot shoot, and it is going to get crowded in Orlando.
Still, Black is a great young talent, and this was a reasonable range to take him.