Franz Wagner

Franz Wagner Looks Primed to Make Another Leap During Sophomore Season

Dan Savage
Director of Digital News

Wagner Chats with Orlando Magic Pod Squad About His Growth, Team Expectations, and More

ORLANDO – Franz Wagner appears primed to take another leap during his sophomore season. 

After an inaugural campaign where he was named to the NBA’s All-Rookie First Team, the 6-foot-10 Orlando Magic forward followed it up with a stellar showing in EuroBasket this summer. And the confidence he gained from leading Germany to a bronze medal has clearly carried over into Orlando’s training camp and preseason action. 

That was evident in the Magic’s 109-105 victory over the Memphis Grizzlies in their preseason home opener on Tuesday. Caught in a tight battle with the Grizzlies, who possessed the league’s second-best record last season, Wagner came up clutch. 

After decisively drilling a crucial triple with 32.7 seconds left to put Orlando up five, Wagner picked the pocket of NBA All-Star Ja Morant to put the game on ice. 

Equally as impressive in the closing moments was the frontcourt chemistry between Wanger, Wendell Carter Jr., and Paolo Banchero down the stretch. The trio combined for 49 points, 26 rebounds, and 17 assists. 

“We did a really good job in that game of sharing the ball, of making easy plays and just taking what the defense gives us,” Wagner told the Orlando Magic Pod Squad. “We have a lot of tall guys that can do stuff with the ball (that we can) just take advantage of mismatches sometimes. Once you have that early advantage, from there, it’s just (about) playing freely and making good decisions.” 

Wagner proved during his rookie campaign that he’s capable of developing into a high-level NBA player. Along with playing in almost every contest – his 79 games played were the most among any first-year player last season – the Michigan alum scored the most points (1,197), grabbed the fifth most rebounds (356), dished out the sixth most assists (231), and tallied the fifth most steals (68) among all rookies. His 17 20-plus-point performances were the fourth most by a Magic rookie all-time – trailing only Shaquille O’Neal (60), Penny Hardaway (29), and Dennis Scott (24). 

In addition to putting up numbers, he had tremendous efficiency for a first-year player. Among the top-10 scoring rookies, he had the third-highest field goal percentage (46.8), second-best 3-point percentage (35.4) and top free throw percentage (86.3).  

“I grew as a player during my first year,” Wagner explained. “I got to run a lot of pick-and-roll, a lot of handoffs and stuff like that. So, I think I did a decent job of making decisions with the ball in EuroBasket as well. I think it helped that I was used to a completely different three-point line. Those threes when you’re right at the line, they don’t feel like threes at all anymore.” 

As Wagner mentioned, his first-year success carried over into EuroBasket. Along the way, he not only felt the support of his teammates and fans back in Orlando, but also the backing of Magic Head Coach Jamahl Mosley, who made the trip out to see him in action. 

“That was really cool. It’s such a long trip,” Wagner told the Pod Squad. “We got to talk a little bit, obviously, when he was there. Just seeing that support, I think it was really cool. Myself, knowing how long that trip is, and him making that commitment to me and to watching those games was a really cool feeling for me.” 

Wagner expects some of the same elements that made his team successful in EuroBasket will help the Magic level up in the NBA this season. Sharing the basketball, off-ball movement, and communication on defense were all part of his EuroBasket run and he believes those tenets will also be a major part of Orlando’s makeup this year. 

“That’s how we’re going to be good,” said Wagner. “Playing together, playing off each other. Obviously, there are going to be nights when guys have it going, and I think that’s when the talent takes over a little bit and you kind of let people play. And there’s a place for that for sure. But I think our coach is doing a good job of making sure that we know what our identity is.” 

You can listen to Wagner’s full sit-down interview with the Orlando Magic Pod Squad here.  

The team's official podcast consists of Magic play-by-play announcer David Steele, color analyst Jeff Turner, studio host/sideline reporter Dante Marchitelli, and Senior Director of Communications George Galante. The crew recently sat down with Magic President of Basketball Operations Jeff Weltman and head coach Jamahl Mosley. 

Along with talking about his growth, Wagner touches on how he got the nickname “Boogie,” his relationship with his brother/teammate Moe Wagner, and more.