2. Anthony Black, Arkansas
Black has the highest basketball IQ of any player in this year’s draft, and he puts that to use as a pure floor general and exceptional passer with a 6-foot-6 frame that helps him see over defenders.
He can make quick touch passes or drive into the lane and whip one-armed passes to open shooters. He’s also adept at finding cutters or big men for lobs if the defense gets too aggressive in helping.
He’s already an advanced pick-and-roll playmaker at 19 years old. He does a good job of using his size and smarts to keep defenders on his hip until the right opportunity presents itself, whether that’s via pass or a finish at the rim. He can set defenders up with crossovers and hesitation dribbles until a crack opens in the screen and immediately understands how to attack when it does.
If defenses get too aggressive trying to guard against Black’s unselfishness, he uses his size, length, and start-and-stop shiftiness to get to the rim. He has an array of crafty finishes through and around contact and has a knack for drawing fouls.
He’s a menace defensively. He knows when and where to stick his hand out to poke the ball away, as evidenced by his 2.1 steals per game last year in the SEC. He can move his feet well enough to stay with smaller guards but can guard one through three with his size. He’s a playmaker on defense as much as he is on offense, getting deflections and starting fast breaks.
Black’s most significant issue is his shot. His form is wonky and inconsistent. He doesn’t shoot a high percentage from anywhere on the floor other than near the basket. If his shot doesn’t improve, he still has a high floor as an exceptional playmaker and defender, but if that shot ever comes around, it opens his game into All-Star caliber potential.
Fits in top five: Hornets, Blazers, Rockets