NBA Scout Sees Breakout Season For Magic’s Franz Wagner

Franz Wagner, Orlando Magic, NBA News
NBA Analysis Network

The Orlando Magic have done a solid job of reshaping their roster with some high-upside young players over the last few offseasons. They committed to another rebuild ahead of the 2021 NBA trade deadline and have quickly built what they are hoping is a young core to turn things around.

One of the players in that young core is Franz Wagner. Wagner was selected using the pick acquired in the Nikola Vucevic trade from the Chicago Bulls.

Wagner was the eighth overall pick in the 2021 NBA Draft out of Michigan, the second lottery pick that Orlando had in that draft. With their first pick, No. 5 overall, they selected Gonzaga point guard Jalen Suggs.

Wagner was one of the most impactful rookies last season, finishing fourth in the draft class with a VORP (Value Over Replacement Player) of 0.8. Only Rookie of the Year Scottie Barnes of the Toronto Raptors, runner-up Evan Mobley of the Cleveland Cavaliers, and Herb Jones of the New Orleans Pelicans finished ahead of Wagner.

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The Magic are hoping that he can take that next step this season and an NBA scout believes it will happen. The scout is expecting a breakout sophomore campaign from Wagner.

“He was good but not great at a lot of things offensively last year. He can score out of a ball screen, make you pay with his catch-and-shoot jumper, and he’s a good cutter. It’s a good foundation to have after the first year. I can see him going from ‘good’ to ‘great’ in many important areas since he’s now comfortable with the NBA level.”

As the scout said, the former Wolverine did everything you’d want to see from a player selected that high in the draft. He averaged 15.2 points, 4.5 rebounds, 2.9 assists and 0.9 steals in 30.7 minutes per game. He appeared in 79 games, proving durable as well during the marathon NBA season.

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Standing 6’9”, Wagner has the size you are looking for in a player to be a two-way contributor on the wing. He can easily create mismatches with his skill set offensively while being able to more than hold his own while he continues getting stronger and filling out defensively.

“I was really impressed with how he can create an advantage for himself as an iso scorer to get to the rim. He has the size to finish through contact and bully smaller defenders. What I like a lot is that his quickness gives him an edge against bigger defenders while being big enough to really challenge them on the drive. … I’d like to see him get more comfortable knocking shots down out from the perimeter this season. Whether that’s a stepback or breaking the defender down before pulling up.”

That is certainly the next part of Wagner’s evolution offensively. His mid-range game was virtually nonexistent as he attempted only 59 shots from 10 feet away out to the 3-point line. He made only 28.8 percent of the shots from that distance, so it is certainly an area he can look to improve in.

LATEST NBA NEWS & TRADE RUMORS: Franz Wagner & Orlando Magic Updates

The shooting ability is there, evident by the 35.6 percent he shot on 3-pointers and 86.3 percent he shot on free throws. If he can add the mid-range jump shot to his game as the scout suggested, he can push for 20 points per game with increased volume likely coming along as well.