Breaking Down Anthony Black's Rim Pressure | The Friday Screener
Anthony Black's rim pressure allows him to affect the offense in ways most other prospects can't.
Anthony Black was a top-tier recruit entering the season, but the Arkansas freshman exploded onto the 2023 NBA Draft scene when he dominated the Maui Invitational. Black has been a leading catalyst to Arkansas’s 9-1 start due to his all-around versatility. At 6’7” and 198 pounds, Black has the size of a wing and the skills of a point guard. He is a matchup conundrum and a lineup versatility enhancer. Even though there are still some questions about Black’s outside jumper, he continues to make a massive offensive impact with his superior rim pressure.
In today’s NBA, it is extremely rare for guards and wings to succeed while being a non-shooter. Black is currently shooting just under 41% from three, which is excellent, but it also is on a small sample of just 27 attempts. Black shouldn’t be classified as a non-shooter, but shooting also shouldn’t be listed as one of his strengths, as he has a slow release and consistently passes up open looks. All Black has to do is take a few every game to keep defenders on their toes. By doing so, it creates driving opportunities where he thrives.
Given his combination of size and skill, Black can ruin defenses with his rim pressure. He’s too quick for bigger defenders and too big for smaller, quicker defenders. Unlike most freshmen, Black leverages his ability to pressure the rim to score for himself and create for others. He combines his physical gifts with his cerebral ones to fully maximize the offense and generate the best shot possible.
Sometimes, as we see below, Black keeps his driving game extraordinarily simple. As he brings the ball up, he accelerates across the halfcourt line and looks to his left. Black’s subterfuge gets the defender to turn his head to look for a screen that isn’t coming yet. Black capitalizes on this momentary lapse by shifting to another gear and crossing over to his right. Now that he’s deserted his primary defender, Black only has to worry about the rim protector, who is now a step out of position due to the movement of the screener. Black accelerates to the rim, elevates off of one foot in the middle of the lane, and uses his size to shield the ball as he fully extends to finish on the right side of the rim.
This time, Black exhibits how he utilizes his cunning movements and physicality, instead of raw speed. As he comes off the double drag screen and gets the switch, Black hesitates for a second and looks towards the lane as if he’s targeting a roller or cutter. This sly move gets the defender to rise slightly out of his stance, putting him at a disadvantage to Black’s next move. Black quickly attacks and fully utilizes his size. Black keeps the ball high to avoid the help defender’s dig and angles his drive into the defender’s chest. By doing so, Black negates any threat of his shot being blocked before finishing with the layup.
Black has a tremendous sense of how to exploit even the slightest missteps that defenders may make. Here, Arkansas is running in transition, and even though the defender is rim side, Black knows that he’s vulnerable. Once he gets the ball, Black immediately attacks the backpedaling defender. Black’s lack of hesitation ensures that the defender can’t get set and establish his balance. The defender does a good job of staying between Black and the rim, but his lack of balance is no match for Black’s size and strength. Black accelerates through the defender’s chest before dropping in the off-balance floater.
Most of Black’s rim pressure comes when he is initiating the offense, but he is still a threat when he doesn’t have the ball. Here, Black perfectly exploits the zone defense with a well-timed cut. As the ball gets to Nick Smith Jr. on the baseline, Black is already pointing for the lob before he even crosses the three-point line. With the entire defense focused on Smith, Black is unimpeded to finish the lob.
Again, Black capitalizes on his teammate’s scoring gravity with a well-timed cut. As Rickie Council IV gets in a bit of trouble in the paint, Black recognizes that his defender’s back is turned and that he has a clear runway to the rim. Black bursts into the open space, elevates to the rim, and shows off his strength as he absorbs and finishes through the contact.
What separates Black’s rim pressure from most players is his ability to leverage it to create for others. While he is highly adept at scoring at the rim in a myriad of ways, he is just as capable of creating for others. His size gives him a scoring advantage, but it also aids his playmaking. Black regularly uses his scoring gravity around the rim and on drives to set up open teammates for an easy score.
Here, Black comes off the screen and slows his dribble. This move allows him to put his primary defender in jail while not allowing the drop defender to fully recover to the roller. Now that he has both defenders engaged, Black takes an extra dribble to the right block, which generates a few more feet of space for the roller, before tossing a live dribble hook lob.
This time, Black comes off another screen, but his defender decides to go under. Since Trey Alexander gets momentarily hung up on the screen, Black has more space to attack, and Ryan Kalkbrenner is unsure if he should recover to the roller or hold his ground. As Black drives, he attracts both defenders, while the roller is left unattended under the rim. Instead of throwing the lob over the seven-foot rim protector, Black leaves his feet to get the defenders to mirror him before executing a perfect wrap-around pass for the easy score.
Black’s ability to create out of the pick-and-roll and see the entire floor while being in traffic is a unique gift. Here, he expertly snakes his way through the paint, which drags the drop defender with him while creating a lane for the roller to fill and seal off Black’s initial defender. Once Black gets to the right elbow, he takes an extra dribble toward the block to change his angle. He already spotted that his teammate has established position, so he knows that he just needs to find a way to get him the ball.
Black’s interior passing will be just as useful in the NBA, but it may be even easier given the difference in floor spacing. He’ll have to consistently navigate tight spaces and use his size and vision to manipulate angles. NBA defenses are also much more adept at tagging and recovering, so reading the weak side defender and making skip passes to shooters will be just as important.
Here, Black comes off a double drag screen and turns the corner to attack. As he does so, there is miscommunication among the defense as Black’s defender chases, a help defender goes to switch, and the other help defender lightly tags the roller. Seeing all of this chaos, the weak side defender frantically collapses to the paint to at least take away the roller, if not rotate all the way to Black’s drive if he continues. As Black goes to turn the corner, he immediately sees the rotation and makes a perfect live dribble skip pass for the open three.
Rim pressure comes in many forms, but few are as valuable as what Anthony Black offers. Whether he’s a point guard or a connector at the next level, Black can do some special stuff at 6’7”. His size affords him a better vantage point for playmaking, the physicality to finish through contact, and the ability to finish in a variety of angles. Black will constantly pressure the rim to create for himself or for others. He’s generally indifferent as long as the ball goes through the hoop.
Actually I watched Arkansas specifically for Nick Smith but Anthony really caught my eye, not because of his mane. And when that happens on my watch it’s usually significant. Smith is obviously a top 6 pick but when a bigger player has these skills it means something. And this draft has Whitmore(possibly a superstar,) Gg Jackson (just turned 18,) Brandon Miller, Walker and the Thompson twins, Dick and Filipowski. That is a sizable group for perhaps the most important position.
That means that good young teams like NO, Utah and the Magic might get two and two very young loaded ones, Detroit and my team, the Thunder will get a piece they need. I like your work, Chuck Thanks