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Why Anthony Black would be the perfect mid-lottery pick for the Spurs

If the Spurs trade up for a second lottery pick, Anthony Black from Arkansas should be their target.

NCAA Basketball: NCAA Tournament First Round-Illinois vs Arkansas Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

The 2023 NBA Draft — and Victor Wembanyama’s arrival in San Antonio — is fast approaching. As we come closer to the night that will change the franchise, excitement is rising through the roof. Also heating up are rumors that the Spurs will look to trade up and acquire a second lottery pick. The cost to do so will be towering and could involve parting ways with a core piece like Keldon Johnson, but it’s worth serious consideration because there is a lot of talent in this year’s lottery.

It would take a sizable package to buy another pick. The Orlando Magic, who own picks six and eleven, could possibly be convinced to part ways with the former for a return centered around Keldon Johnson or Malaki Branham, pick 44, and some future first-rounders. That may not be enough for pick six, though, so another option could be offering a similar deal to Dallas for the 10th pick.

Pounding the Rock has already covered some prospects the Spurs could target if they trade up, including Scoot Henderson of the G-League Ignite and Cason Wallace from Kentucky, but another guy who jumps out as someone who would be an excellent fit on this young Spurs squad, and worth the price of the trade up, is Anthony Black from Arkansas. The 19-year-old is a point guard in a 6’7” frame and is bursting with potential. There’s a lot to love about his funky game that would make trading up for him a worthwhile move for San Antonio.

LaMelo Ball. Cade Cunningham. Josh Giddey. Jumbo point guards have been the sensation sweeping the NBA draft nation in recent years, and Anthony Black is the next in line. Black’s feel for the game is immense. He has great awareness and gets his teammates the ball when they’re open. Shooters, cutters, bigs in the dunker’s spot; Black finds everybody and is a fantastic connective passer. He can also direct pick-and-rolls at a high level and create off the bounce. He has a knack for threading passes through tight pockets and hitting his roll man at the right time.

Black also makes as many plays defensively as he does on offense. He’s an absolutely wreckful force on D. He’s a hound on the ball, he’s a high-motor off-ball chaser, he collects oodles of stocks (steals+blocks), and he does a great job of challenging shots vertical. Long story short, Black does it all on defense and he’s one of this class’s better prospects in that area.

There is one major question mark with Black, though, and that’s his scoring. While his size, power, and touch make him an effective slasher, he struggles to score on the perimeter. During his freshman campaign at Arkansas, he posted worrying success rates of 31.0% on catch-and-shoot threes and 27.0% on dribble threes. His mechanics are inconsistent and need some ironing, but he doesn’t shoot like Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, so there is hope. Black’s ability to make jumpers is his swing skill and will determine his NBA ceiling.

So how does Anthony Black fit with the Silver and Black? His two biggest strengths fill needs for this Spurs roster. While Tre Jones had an excellent season and has proven to be a quality floor general, he isn’t the long-term answer at point guard. Black could be that, especially if he can do more damage as a scorer. Additionally, San Antonio was dead last in the association in defensive rating this past season. If Black came into town along with Victor Wembanyama, the two would be a dynamic defensive foundation that could boost the squad back into competency.

If that isn’t enough to make you buy in on Black, consider the fun factor. A (potential) lineup of Black, Devin Vassell, Jeremy Sochan, Wembanyama, and Zach Collins would be the epitome of modern, versatility-loaded basketball. Black and Wemby pick-and-rolls would wreak havoc on opponents. Black and Sochan would form the best hair duo in the league.

The price to trade up is steep, and the move would definitely be risky, so maximizing the value of the pick would be crucial. Of the possible targets, nobody makes more sense than Anthony Black.