5 questions for the Orlando Magic’s offseason
What are Franz Wagner’s next steps?
The most exciting and encouraging part of the entire season was undoubtedly Franz Wagner’s development.
Wagner averaged 15.2 points per game and shot 46.8-percent from the floor, including 35.8-percent from beyond the arc. He stood up to the 82-game season physically too, playing in the first 78 games before a rolled ankle shut him down for all but one of the final four games.
There were some ups and downs for sure — the rookie wall is a real thing. But Wagner was still productive in the downtimes and had some big burst games.
The exciting part about Wagner is that he seemingly fits everywhere. It is easy to see him being a cutter and a secondary ball-handler. It is easy seeing him being a supporting player as a spot-up shooter.
What everyone really wants from Wagner is for him to take the next step toward stardom. If there was one prevailing storyline from the season with Wagner it was how much Magic fans wanted him on the ball more.
He still took the second-most field goal attempts per game on the team. It was not that he was not getting shots. But his usage rate still hovered around 20-percent. And his best moments this season came in December when his usage rate was up near 25-percent.
Wagner can clearly do a whole lot more. That is what the team is eager to find out.
What that improvement looks like is anybody’s guess. Wagner said he wants to continue to add strength now that he has been through the rigors of an NBA season.
The area I would like to see him add is a more consistent mid-range and pull-up game — also known as the provenance of the stars. Wagner was either shooting threes or getting all the way to the basket — both things he is good at. If Wagner can develop a mid-range jumper, then he becomes a completely different player.
Wagner took only 39 mid-range field goals according to NBA.com’s tracking statistics. That is a shockingly low amount. He scored only 1.8 points per game on 34.2-percent shooting on pull-up shots.
Nobody wants or expects Wagner to become a guy who is jacking up shots or playing recklessly. That is not even really his game anyway. Nobody wants that to change.
But a little more aggression and a better way to keep defenses off-balanced will help him take his next steps.