Many people had mixed thoughts about taking Franz Wagner with the eighth overall pick in the 2021 NBA Draft. They felt it was a reach and did not really know how it would pan out. However, those questions have certainly been answered thus far.
With two seasons done in his NBA career, Wagner has panned out to be at the top of the list of the Orlando Magic’s best players, let alone among the best players in his draft class.
He has career averages of 16.9 points, 4.3 rebounds and 3.1 assists per game. He also has a career field goal percentage of 47.7 percent. Pretty impressive for his first two years in the NBA.
What has stood out though about Wagner is how he seems to do it all. He is an incredibly balanced player who does not take over the game too much, fitting in where the Magic can find him the ball. It seems no matter what Orlando does with him, he is successful.
The Orlando Magic have a great weapon with Franz Wagner’s balanced game. His ability to get it done in the many facets of the game, on both offense and defense, while playing in the grand majority of games helps the Magic a whole lot.
When it comes to being “balanced,” you have to be great in the many parts of basketball. Wagner covers all of these categories. He does not miss a lot of games (has missed five total since the start of his career) and this helps his game get better on both sides of the ball.
In other words, Wagner can get it done at a high rate for Orlando on offense and defense.
Last season, he led the Magic in field goals (542) and three-pointers made (130), as well as total points (1,485). Wagner most certainly was Orlando’s most efficient scorer from within and beyond the three-point line.
When it came to rebounding, Franz Wagner was fourth on the team behind two centers and defending rookie of the year Paolo Banchero.
He was also second on the team in assists only behind starting point guard Markelle Fultz.
Wagner’s offensive versatility is legendary as a 6-foot-10 forward capable of hitting effectively from the outside (36.1 percent last year) and driving to the basket. He was second on the team in drives per game with 10.8 per game, according to data from Second Spectrum, shooting 49.7 percent assists off those drives.
Additionally, the Magic scored 0.91 points per possession with Wagner running pick and rolls. No player on the team ran more pick-and-rolls than him. Wagner can still improve in this area. But it shows the versatility he brings at his size.
On the offensive end, Wagner is a talented player. But, his contributions to the defensive end make his game fully balanced. He was second on the team in steals once again only behind Fultz.
The balanced play is there now for Wagner who has a healthy lump sum of games in the NBA under his belt.
However, just how does it help the Magic? Well, it does great, as Orlando plays way better with him on the floor. The Magic had a +1.2 net rating with Wagner on the floor compared to a team-worst -9.1 net rating when Wagner was off the floor.
The Magic in games without Wagner average fewer steals, fewer field goals, and fewer free throws. They also understandably have lesser free throw and field goal percentages without him. With the forward on the floor, the Magic are better in all of these categories.
For the Magic, there are very few players who have the ability to be highly impactful on both sides of the floor like Wagner.
The only other player to have a balanced-out arsenal like his is Paolo Banchero. However, the former rookie of the year looked like a rookie, going through a prolonged shooting slump in February and shot worse than 30 percent from beyond the arc for the entirety of last season.
Fultz is a really sound player defensively at the point. However, much like Banchero, he also struggled from three with a percentage in the low thirties and only 27 three-pointers made the entire season.
Banchero can rebound at a higher rate than Wagner and Wagner may be more contributive statistically on defense, but he picks up the slack on three-point shooting that those two players have.
So why does this make him “the biggest weapon” in Orlando? Well, he does not miss games and this means that he can be depended upon by head coach Jamahl Mosley very often.
It does boost his numbers. But at the same time, he can do it all when he has the ball on the wing with his great frame and good ability to separate or get by opposing defenders. It is something that Orlando has benefited from and will continue to benefit from.
Orlando is better on offense and defense with Wagner out on the floor and his balanced game, or great skill on both offense and defense, is a great addition the Magic have gotten as of recent and it has quickly become the best part of the team due to his ability to play in nearly every game that has occurred since he has arrived in Orlando.