The Orlando Magic have selected Anthony Black with the No. 6 overall pick in the 2023 NBA Draft. Black is a 6-6 guard who played his freshman season at Arkansas. Though he arrived in Fayetteville as the second-most hyped prospect in his class behind Nick Smith, he ultimately emerged as a lottery prospect as the season progressed. The Razorbacks made it to the Sweet 16 thanks in part to Black’s performance but ultimately lost to the eventual national champion Connecticut Huskies.
Black wasn’t an elite scorer at Arkansas, but he brings a number of other valuable traits to the table. His basketball IQ, size and vision make him one of the best passers in this class, and while he isn’t an elite athlete, he uses his size effectively on defense. Like so many other players in this year’s draft, Black has a lot riding on the development of his jump shot. He made just 30.1% of his 3-pointers last season, and if that doesn’t improve, teams are going to leave him alone from deep.
The Magic shocked the NBA world when they took Paolo Banchero No. 1 overall following months of Jabari Smith speculation last summer, but that move has clearly paid dividends for Orlando. The Magic started the season 5-17, but went 29-31 after that as Banchero ran away with the Rookie of the Year award. For the first time since Dwight Howard’s prime, Banchero gave Orlando a foundational superstar.
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But he is far from the only thing the Magic have going for them. Franz Wagner can do a bit of everything, and that includes playing just about every position. Wendell Carter Jr. emerged as a starting-caliber forward last season, and the three-headed guard rotation of Jalen Suggs, Markelle Fultz and Cole Anthony has a diverse set of skills and should only grow with time. All told, the Magic have one of the most talented young rosters in the NBA, and with two picks in the lottery, they are going to continue to add to that core.
Black is the first step in that direction. With their front court seemingly set, the Magic grabbed a perimeter player that adds a layer of playmaking their backcourt has largely lacked over the last several seasons, and hopefully, he’ll be a big part of Orlando’s return to the postseason in the near future.
I love it. This is someone who many thought would last to No. 8, but that would have been too late for a player who can contribute on both sides. He has proven himself to be a true big point guard, adding weight without losing speed or agility. The question is his shooting, and he has looked better in the draft process than he looked in college. If he can figure that end out, he will be a top-five player in this class no doubt. Grade: A