Anthony Black has proven to be a great piece to the Orlando Magic's puzzle

Anthony Black has had a good start to his career as a solid role player for a Playoff-contending Orlando Magic team. While he is out of the rotation for now, he could be a critical piece to their postseason success.
Orlando Magic v New York Knicks
Orlando Magic v New York Knicks / Sarah Stier/GettyImages

The Orlando Magic have depth.

A part of that depth is Anthony Black, the rookie point guard out of Arkansas. He stepped in to the starting lineup when Markelle Fultz missed time early in the season and was thrown to the deep end. He held his own, helping anchor the Magic's nine-game win streak that put them squarely in the Playoff picture from the start of the season.

Black is only 20 years old but stands at 6-foot-7, making his mark on the defensive end with his energy and size. He fit in perfectly to the Magic's overall philosophy.

He was also surprisingly strong on offense, able to cut into the lane and finish near the basket. But, more surprisingly, he proved to be a better-than-expected shooter and floor spacer.

Black is averaging just 4.8 points per game and 1.4 assists per game. As a starter (in 33 games this season), he is averaging 5.0 points per game and 1.8 assists per game. They are very modest stats. But he has shot 39.1 percent from three, showing a willingness to hit catch-and-shoot threes from the corners especially and little hesitation when the ball swings to him.

It is a lot better than the 30.1 percent he shot from deep at Arkansas last year. Black has taken a major step forward and shoots well enough to make his defense worth it.

Black is out of the rotation at the moment, but he has been a critical addition to the Magic's bench rotation. Orlando knows it can use him and rely on him in the Playoffs depending on the matchup. He is a solid role player for a young up-and-coming Eastern Conference team.

Right now Black is a 3-and-D player who can create open shots for his teammates. He is one of the tallest point guards in the NBA. Orlando does not really use him as a point guard -- he averages 28.1 touches per game (sandwiched between Moe Wagner and Goga Bitadze) and has a usage rate of just 12.6 percent.

Black does a lot of standing in the corner and staying out of the way. He does not drive a ton offensively -- just 2.2 drives per game according to Second Spectrum. His being able to hit threes is a big deal for his success as a rookie -- he hits 42.9 percent of his above-the-break threes.

Ultimately, Orlando values Black for his size. That is one of his big advantages when he plays.

Black is able to see over defenses and pass the ball into spots that may be problematic for other point guards who are shorter. Black can also shoot from the outside and attack the rim with force.

Black has helped the Magic to reach their postseason goals by being ready and available whenever his number is called. He plugs in for the Magic while not demanding the ball or taking the air out of it. He is a reliable secondary player as a rookie.

And there is still so much room for him to grow. He works because he fits perfectly on defense. That is ultimately why the Magic made him the sixth overall pick, looking to leverage his size in their mega-sized lineups.

Black has an uncanny ability to stay in front of opponents and create pressure with his 6-foot-7.5 wingspan.

This season, the Magic have a 108.5 defensive rating when Black is on the floor. That rating helped the Magic sustain their top-five defensive ranking when Markelle Fultz missed significant time earlier in the year.

According to data from Basketball-Index, he has a 0.48 pickpocket rating (placing him in the 70th percentile) and he is surprisingly strong protecting the interior with 1.02 blocks per 75 possessions and giving up 9.40 percentage points worse at the rim than expected.

Those are solid numbers for a guards. It has Black well on his way to being one of the premiere defenders in the league.

Although Black is a critical piece to the Magic's bench rotation, he has been called up to start several times during the season. He has started in 33 games for Orlando and has provided great energy and defense throughout his playing time.

This starting experience will allow the rookie to be cool under pressure if coach Jamahl Mosley needs him in a critical moment in the Playoffs. He has performed well enough this year and should have earned a right to be a part of this historic postseason run.

When it comes to the playoffs, Black's willingness to shoot and skill on defense will make him someone the magic should trust to throw into the mix. It certainly would help his development to go through the Playoffs and contribute.

Orlando should believe he can do so.

Mosley has developed Black into a solid first-year player by allowing him to learn on the fly and make mistakes early. He seems to be liked by his teammates, doesn't turn the ball over often and shoots well from beyond the arc. These are key attributes to a winning team.

Mosley believe again 03.19.24. Jamahl Mosley has gotten Orlando Magic to believe again. dark. Next

Black will not win Rookie of the Year or even make the All-Rookie teams, but he will be playing in the Playoffs and very possibly contributing to a winning team.