Anthony Black sees great fit with Wizards


CHICAGO -- The last three NBA drafts have seen a new varation of point guard enter the league. They are tall, wiry, versatile and combine creative passing with an innate feel for the game.

Tyrese Haliburton in 2020. Josh Giddey in 2021. Dyson Daniels in 2022 (give him time). Anthony Black could be next.

The Arkansas standout is projected to go in the top-10 of the 2023 NBA Draft next month and at 6-foot-7, he has the size of a wing with a 39-inch vertical leap and one of the best defensive skillsets in this year's class. With the Wizards holding the eighth overall pick, he sees a good fit in D.C.

"Just a great team. They’ve got some good scorers. I don’t know what they’re thinking, but I think they need a guard. I feel like I can come in and make an impact on the team and even help those dudes get better. [I could] play with a Razorback, too," Black said on Wednesday at the NBA Draft combine.

Black, 19, was referring to Wizards big man Daniel Gafford with the Razorback comment. Arkansas could have as many as three first round picks this year between Black, Nick Smith Jr. and Ricky Council IV. Black is the highest-rated prospect among them.

It's easy to see how he could fit with the Wizards. Monte Morris and Delon Wright, their primary point guards, are both one year away from free agency. The timing would be good for a long-term answer at the point guard position.

Black could also provide switchable defense to a team that has some intriguing defensive pieces, but could use a rangy stopper to tie them all together. Due to his height, length and quickness, Black could guard multiple positions at the next level.

"I usually guard smaller guards, so I can back up a little and keep a hand up," Black said.

He added that his height helps him as a passer as well because he can see over the defense, just as a tall quarterback can see over their offensive line. Black, though, gets by using much more than his physical gifts. He has a knack for anticipating and reading angles, consistently finding his teammates for in-rhythm looks both in the halfcourt and transition.

Black says his intrinsic feel for the game is hard to describe, but he knows he has it.

"I’m not sure. I think a lot of my feel for the game comes from my vision. I played soccer at a young age and I tell people that I think that helped with passing angles. Just delivering the ball on time and on target," he said.

"Other than that, I don’t really know. I don’t know if you can really drill it [down] or if it’s something that you just have. I might be lucky to just have it."

Black, who is originally from the Dallas area, averaged 12.8 points, 5.1 rebounds and 3.9 assists in 36 games for the Razorbacks last season. He shot 45.3% from the field and 30.1% from three, the latter leading to question marks about his outside shooting.

Black will likely have to develop that skill over time to fully reach his potential. He sees himself as a point guard and the better he shoots, the more teams will have to respect his range. That dynamic could dictate how they guard him on pick-and-rolls, which is a crucial element of the point guard position at the NBA level.

Black, though, seems to have a good grasp of what he needs to work on and who he can learn from. When asked for player comparisons, he cited two Oklahoma City Thunder guards and gave specifics.

"I like watching [Josh] Giddey just because of his vision and his feel, it’s ridiculous. The passes he makes and the pace he plays with, I like watching him. But I also watch [Shai Gilgeous-Alexander] a little bit. I’m starting to add some of his stuff, especially in the midrange area," he said.

Both are big, playmaking guards that have helped make the future bright for the Thunder. Perhaps Black could have the same effect in Washington.

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