Franz Wagner: overlooked Magic talent, who's not playing like a rookie

2022-02-15 13:59

The eighth pick of last year's NBA Draft, Franz Wagner, has been putting up impressive numbers during his rookie campaign, which may not seem surprising considering that the Orlando Magic are one of the worst teams in the NBA and are in full rebuild mode.

Because of that, many NBA fans have overlooked Wagner's play. So does the German forward have what it takes to become an elite NBA player?

Although just 20-years-old, Wagner's basketball IQ is second to none, and moving without the basketball is one of his greatest strengths.

3-pointers this season

Points made: 11,9
Accuracy: 33,0%
Place in standings: 17
Record max: 19
Record min: 4
Most made 3FGs: Cole Anthony

The German is an excellent cutter, especially coming from the 45-degree angle, which helps him rack up some easy points each game. He is excellent at reading the defense and makes perfectly-timed cuts when opponents least expect it or are too late to stop him.

However, cuts make up just 10 percent of Wagner's points, as his primary ways to score are as a pick-and-roll ball handler, followed by transition and catch and shoot or drive situations.

Wagner has impressed NBA fans with his pick-and-roll skills, often capped off with a eurostep move. Franz is not the fastest player in the world but makes up for it with his impressive size and length.

However, the German forward is a bit predictable as he tries to get inside the paint almost every time. He almost never pulls up for a mid-range jumper off the pick-and-roll, so inside scoring and open 3-pointers can be considered Wagner's bread and butter.

According to advanced stats, only 20 percent of his pick-and-rolls end with jumpers, with the rest of the points coming from layups and floaters.

It's clear that Wagner prefers to drive to the right and finish with his dominant right hand, resulting in about a 50 percent layup conversion rate. His lack of speed impacts the shot difficulty around the rim. When driving after the pick-and-roll, Franz only makes 38 percent of layups.

While working on improving speed is a difficult task to do, Wagner could solve this problem by working on fundamentals such as using screens more efficiently.

Wagner is also excellent at changing speeds, especially when opponents utilize drop defenses and the German can take defenders on his back.

This skill also allows him to make better ball distribution decisions, which has improved even further lately. Even though there is nothing flashy about Wagner's passing, he focuses on making the right play, which he does quite efficiently.

Furthermore, in order to become a prolific point-forward and to open up the court for others, as well as himself, Wagner needs to improve his shooting. As we often see with rookies, they are inconsistent at shooting the ball during their rookie campaigns.

Wagner is no different, as his 3-point percentage shifts from 30 to 40 percent each month. Strangely, he has been most inefficient on the corner catch-and-shoot threes, where other shooters often excel.

All in all, the German prospect has been shining bright in Orlando and seems to have a bright future ahead of him. Standing at 6-foot-10 and possessing guard skills on offense looks promising even though he lacks explosiveness. Perhaps the Magic finally found their missing piece to start rising from the bottom.

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