A Review of Franz Wagner at NBA Summer League

by Josh Cohen

LAS VEGAS - Franz Wagner, selected eighth overall by the Magic in the 2021 NBA Draft, played in four of Orlando’s five summer league games in Las Vegas and averaged 8.0 points, 3.8 rebounds, 1.0 assists and 1.2 steals.

There are not many players from this year’s draft more versatile than the 6-foot-9, 220-pound forward. He is truly a jack-of-all-trades player. Fundamentally sound with a high basketball IQ, he makes a big impact even when his stat line doesn’t glow.

Let’s break down what the soon-to-be 20-year-old did well and areas where he must still improve.

OFF-BALL ACTIVITY/MOVEMENT

Several of Wagner’s baskets in Vegas came via cuts to the basket. As soon as he spotted a defenseless trail, he dashed to the hoop and finished with either a layup or a dunk. This was something he did a lot of in college at the University of Michigan as well.

DEFENSIVE IQ

Wagner always seemed to be in the right place at the right time on defense. He moved his feet well, contested shots on the perimeter, disrupted passing lanes, deflected away passes, and didn’t get bullied in the post. A switchable defender, Wagner is someone that guards the paint and perimeter equally well.

TRANSITION OFFENSE

Even though he’s not blazing fast or incredibly explosive, Wagner runs the floor well. A few times after a teammate collected a rebound or steal, he sprinted down the court and was ahead of the defense. When the ball was in his hands in transition, he made quick, smart decisions.

AREAS TO IMPROVE

One of the knocks on Wagner pre-draft was his erratic outside shooting in college. He shot just 32.5 percent from downtown in his two combined seasons with the Wolverines. In summer league, he only made two of his 13 attempts from beyond the arc. Obviously, that’s going to have to improve. Most believe it will because he has great shooting mechanics and isn’t afraid to let it fly from deep. Zipping by defenders in isolation is not something anyone expects him to do due to his lack of speed and explosiveness. But he’s very good at angling his body to get shots up over defenders.

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