Orlando Magic 2022 Full Season MVP: Franz Wagner and the Orlando Magic want more

Franz Wagner put together some more tangible results to their hard-won progress as they completed a winning homestand. Mandatory Credit: Mike Watters-USA TODAY Sports
Franz Wagner put together some more tangible results to their hard-won progress as they completed a winning homestand. Mandatory Credit: Mike Watters-USA TODAY Sports /

Orlando Magic fans were upset Sunday night.

They knew it was coming. They knew the odds were against Franz Wagner even with the consistency he displayed all season. The narrative just was not there for him.

Scottie Barnes and Evan Mobley were on playoff teams and had major impacts — even with lower usage roles — on their teams to get to the postseason. Cade Cunningham was the top overall pick and overcame some early-season struggles to find his groove.

Wagner was just a constant drumbeat. He rarely played poorly and rarely had a bad game. He contributed something every game. He did have some offensive bursts too, so no one could claim Wagner did not have the big scoring games.

Wagner has a strong case to win Rookie of the Year, even in a stacked rookie class. If Wagner misses the All-Rookie First Team, then Magic fans will have every reason to riot — Jalen Green, Josh Giddey and Herbert Jones are likely fighting for that fifth and final spot.

Narrative has a powerful pull in award voting on the national awards. It often determines these things long before everyone is done making their case.

So here is a narrative that deserves some consideration. And an award Wagner should win.

No player on the Magic represented the consistency the team needs to develop and the hope for growth that could come. The kind of humility and focus the Magic have always valued, but the potential to be something a whole lot more.

Franz Wagner was the most consistent player for the Orlando Magic and provided hope for the team’s development. Leaving the season where everyone wanted more.

More importantly, Wagner left Magic fans wanting and excited for more. And that is probably more important than anything else.

The Magic’s season was about laying a foundation and providing a glimpse of what they could be. No one did that more than Franz Wagner. And that is why he is our MVP for the 2022 season.

Wagner averaged 15.2 points per game (second on the team) while shooting 46.8-percent from the floor and 35.4-percent from beyond the arc. Wagner was a stalwart in a season where the Magic dealt with injuries, playing in 79 games (including the first 78 of the season). That consistency was valuable.

But the consistency goes beyond just being around. He had consistency in what the Magic could count on from him.

Wagner had 45 games with 15 or more points and 17 games with 20 or more points. He scored 38 points in a loss to the Milwaukee Bucks and then added 28-point performances against the Washington Wizards and Indiana Pacers in March and his breakout performance against the Minnesota Timberwolves.

Those became the constant drumbeat for the team. Orlando could count on Wagner for scoring consistency throughout the season. He was always there.

That is an incredible thing for a rookie. If anything, rookies are always expected to be bad. Anything you get from a rookie is a bonus in many ways because they are learning the league and often get overmatched physically as much as anything.

Wagner never looked that way all season. He looked composed and measured all season long.

The Magic certainly felt his impact this season.

The Magic had a -4.9 net rating with Franz Wagner on the floor, trailing only Wendell Carter among rotation players. Orlando had a team-worst -13.1 net rating with Wagner off the floor — including a terrible 98.1 offensive rating.

That suggests the ways Wagner helps make the team better. That is what everyone expected from Wagner. But the most encouraging thing remains how effective he was with a relatively low usage rate.

Wagner was second on the team in scoring at 15.2 points per game and still second in field goal attempts per game at 12.3 attempts per game, but was fifth on the team in usage rate at 20.8-percent. He essentially had the usage of an average player.

That suggests there is another level to his game as he gets put on the ball more and featured more in the offense. That was the biggest ask from fans as the season came to a close, even as the Magic stuck to their development plan.

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During December when injuries and health and safety protocols decimated the roster, Wagner showed what he could do with a higher usage rate. He averaged 19.5 points per game while shooting 47.6-percent from the floor and taking 14.9 field goal attempts per game. He did that all that still on a 23.9-percent usage rate.

Even when the Magic had to give him the ball more just to survive, he maintained his efficiency. That is the most encouraging thing for the team as they scale up. Or Wagner could be successful in a somewhat reduced role like he played his rookie year.

But that is why Wagner is so representative of what the Magic are trying to build. He is good now as he learns and grows, but there is still clearly so much more he can do and improve.

It was a season that showed the potential of the present and the hope for the future.

No player represented this than Wagner for the Magic this season.

That is not to say there are no areas he needs to improve — Wagner shot 58.3-percent within five feet, a number that is about average for the league, and took only 39 total mid-range shots all season. Wagner can still get a lot better. And good rookies typically take a big leap into their sophomore season.

The Magic had other strong performances. Carter especially had a solid season and has the same potential to continue growing now that he seems to have stability and confidence instilled in him. Orlando has plenty of young players with unknown futures and potential to develop.

Wagner though represented that hope best. He was the guy who left everyone wanting more and eager to see more. That is what the Magic needed to see from this first year of their rebuild. They needed to see enough to give them hope and map out a future.

Nobody understood what the Magic had when they drafted Wagner in July. He blew away every expectation the team had.

But he left everyone wanting and ready for more. That is what a rebuilding team has to be. And that is why Wagner was the best thing about the season.

Wagner may not win the Rookie of the Year Award. But nobody drafts a rookie to win that award. It is for a career. And the Magic are certainly happy with what they got with the eighth overall pick.

Next. Orlando Magic's next task: Leveling up. dark

Wagner is going to create a new narrative and write his own story.