Orlando Magic Player Comparisons: Anthony Black has to match skills of big guards

LAS VEGAS, NEVADA - JULY 08: Anthony Black #0 of Orlando Magic dribbles the ball against the Detroit Pistonsduring the first quarter of a 2023 NBA Summer League game at the Thomas & Mack Center on July 08, 2023 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Candice Ward/Getty Images)
LAS VEGAS, NEVADA - JULY 08: Anthony Black #0 of Orlando Magic dribbles the ball against the Detroit Pistonsduring the first quarter of a 2023 NBA Summer League game at the Thomas & Mack Center on July 08, 2023 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Candice Ward/Getty Images) /

The scorching sun outside the stadiums of Las Vegas during Summer League can be as grueling as the heat of initial reactions to draft-pick performances inside.

With the Orlando Magic getting deserved questioning around using their draft picks this year for players who could be seen as redundant to the roster, their rookies Anthony Black and Jett Howard have now shown the fans and franchise portfolios what their talents may provide.

In Summer League, we have seen glimpses of what can be with young guard Anthony Black as he prepares for an offseason, training camp, and rookie season to hopefully push the Magic over the top into Playoff contention.

Widely considered to be a top-10 talent in the 2023 NBA Draft, Anthony Black’s highest polled position was going to be at number five. Having close to a 1-to-1 height-to-wingspan ratio, his frame and build similarly matches that of Former Warriors Guard Shaun Livingston and Charlotte Hornets guard LaMelo Ball.

Anthony Black’s most similar talent comparisons to NBA talent would be that of Josh Giddey, Elfrid Payton, Shaun Livingston and current Magic guard Markelle Fultz. The Ringer compared his feel of the game and his ability to connect others to Lonzo Ball.

Anthony Black has arrived with the Orlando Magic and has shown his potential as a bigger guard. What can the Magic expect and who can we compare him to?

With the average height and weight in the NBA this past season measuring in around 6-foot-6 and 214 pounds, Anthony Black will have the physical capabilities to physically match most of his competitors from day one.

So how does Black reach the heights and surpass those he was compared to in the pre-draft process?

Arkansas was one of the worst 3-point shooting teams, so their offensive game plan was to be a defensive turnover machine allowing for transition runs. In the half court, they set up players through one or two passes along with zone-busting screens, nearly 60 percent of their scoring was inside the three-point line.

Anthony Black has a knack for attacking the rim in Arkansas’ offense.

Similar to Livingston and Fultz, Black is able to use either hand on drives but favors his right hand. Anthony has nice strides and a good vertical to help him finish with force when given a runway. Black can eat contact up and still finish around the rim which will help in off-ball cutting situations.

Though he does not have the weight to throw around like Anthony Edwards or even R.J. Barrett, Anthony Black finds his way to use fancy finishes and height to compete aerially.

He is an above-50-percent 2-point finisher like Livingston, Giddey and Fultz. Black made 51.3 percent of his 2-point field goals last year. Livingston hit 41.8 percent his rookie year and 49.1 percent for his career. Giddey hit 49.2 percent of his twos as a rookie, growing to 52.4 percent last year.

Fultz hit 50.2 percent of his 2-point field goals in his lone season at Washington, before the TOS took over and hampered him in his career. He has hit 50.0 and 54.4 percent in the last two seasons from inside the arc.

He would just need to add a pull-up or floater game this year to continue that efficiency among taller and stronger trees. But without a 3-point shot, Black’s ability to follow Livingston, Giddey and Fultz’s mold of efficiency at the rim and on mid-range jumpers will be critical.

Black was a poor three-point shooter from all locations besides the left corner, most of his attempts were from the center with equal distribution on either wing.

Black’s outside shooting came primarily within the offense when given open shots or when needing to buy a basket to keep the Razorbacks in close games.

We may see a lot more threes from Anthony than he will knock down as a vice of the new NBA, if he could hover around Fultz’s 1.5 attempts a game or even Giddey’s 3.1, on even below-average splits it would make him a threat from deep.

Black’s real value will come on the defensive end, where he was one of the best defensive players in the nation last year as a freshman for an elite defensive team in Arkansas.

Black defensively has shown the ability to get steals, both on-ball and in passing lanes. His attempts on going for them to match the number of fouls he produces, No. 3 in the SEC for steals but also No. 8 in fouls.

Black’s other defensive numbers can be swooning. It is good to take into consideration that his defensive rating of 96.9 points allowed per 100 position which ranks top 20 in the SEC is behind four of his fellow teammates.

In actuality, the Razorbacks tied with the 50th-best defensive rating out of 363 teams, as a team they ranked 30th in per-game steals and 14th in per-game blocks.

It is easy to play the game for either side of the coin if Black is the good-to-great defender that helped make Arkansas top 50 or if the system produced him to look like he is a good-to-great defender. Every player entering the NBA will have moments of looking lost, but like Fultz and Payton, Black could find himself snatching up 1.5-plus steals per game.

His biggest flaw can be seen as his greatest strength, a pass-first guard who sometimes bites too heavily on small opportunities giving him nearly a 1-to-1 turnover ratio. Black did rank as No. 1 in minutes in the SEC, along with No. 2 in total assists and No. 5 in assists per game but No. 1 in turnovers and No. 17 in turnovers total in all of NCAA basketball.

This is one of the biggest learning curves for playmakers entering the next level, you are playing with and against the greatest basketball talent culminated among 30 teams. Every night you will be faced with someone special, even if your preconceived notion of them is the opposite.

Giddey, Payton and Livingston all averaged about a 2-to-1 assist-to-turnover ratio while averaging more than 2.5 turnovers a game. Anthony’s game will be predicated as a down-the-hill facilitator using his wing height to drive and kick the ball to better shooting talent.

In Summer League, we have seen the continuation of his college career: Limited outside shooting, good effort defense and well-intentioned passing but ends up still with a 1-to-1 turnover ratio.

With this unselfish playing style, if refined over his rookie deal, along with adding any level of mid-range or extended shooting, he would be an added plus instead of another ball-handler fighting for dribbles.

dark. Next. Markelle Fultz still has claim to Orlando Magic's point guard spot

Although a young team, Orlando has roughly its top 5-7 guys written lightly in pencil, for Black to make an impressive rookie campaign he will have to refine himself quickly and produce. Black has the talent and ability to make an All-Rookie team if he plays his cards right.