Should Raptors prioritize Anthony Black or Nick Smith in NBA Draft?

FAYETTEVILLE, ARKANSAS - DECEMBER 21: Anthony Black #0 of the Arkansas Razorbacks (Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images)
FAYETTEVILLE, ARKANSAS - DECEMBER 21: Anthony Black #0 of the Arkansas Razorbacks (Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images) /

The Toronto Raptors and Arkansas Razorbacks’ fanbases may need to get to know each other very well in the next few weeks. Eric Musselman has sent a quartet of viable pro prospects into the NBA miasma, with Anthony Black and Nick Smith standing out this year.

At this point, there might be more mock drafts that feature the Raptors drafting Smith than any other player combined. Due to the need at the position and his falling stock due to a poor season at Arkansas that was marred by injuries, Smith’s stock is starting to fall.

Black, a 6-7 point forward and teammate of Smith’s at Fayetteville, has proven to be a superior prospect in the eyes of the league, as he combines positional versatility with tremendous playmaking ability. It will be very tough to envision a situation where Black isn’t selected in the Top 10.

If the Raptors end up in a position to draft both of these former Razorbacks, either through one of them falling to No. 13 or Toronto making a trade with a team like the Pacers, which one should Masai Ujiri use his extremely valuable first-round draft selection on.

The Toronto Raptors might draft Anthony Black or Nick Smith

Black is a peak “Vision 6-9” prospect, as he averaged over two steals per game while amassing 12.8 points and 5.1 rebounds per game as the primary ball-handler. With Smith himself hurt for most of the season, the spacing alongside Black and Ricky Council was never as good as it could have been.

When healthy, Smith was nigh unstoppable at the high school level, showing off the explosion and athletic traits that will translate to any level of basketball. It’s rare to see a player with his medical history called the “safe option,”: but you won’t have to teach him how to shoot like Black.

Even though Nick Nurse is gone, Masai Ujiri made it sound like he is not going to abandon his principles of player development internally. As such, Toronto might be willing to take a chance on Black, with his more complex two-way game making him a more impactful player right out of the box and (potentially) at the end of his rookie deal.

If both are available, Black seems like the better selection, as his shooting issues can be made up for with the fact that he does basically everything else on the basketball court at an above-average level. Smith is a worthy prospect, but his role is more defined and less varied than what Black can provide.

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