2023 Orlando Magic Time To Step Up: Franz Wagner’s Rebounding

Orlando Magic forward Franz Wagner continues to impress with the leaps he has made. But the Magic remain a play short of a victory. Mandatory Credit: Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports
Orlando Magic forward Franz Wagner continues to impress with the leaps he has made. But the Magic remain a play short of a victory. Mandatory Credit: Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports /

There is not a lot to dislike with Franz Wagner. He is a strong driver and finisher, deftly weaving his way through defenses and scoring with efficiency. He is a gifted playmaker for a player of his size at 6-foot-10. He can hit confidently from beyond the arc.

Wagner has the complete offensive package. On top of this, he is a strong defender for a player of his size. He can defend players of all sizes and hold his own on the perimeter with his quickness and strength.

Through two seasons there is not much it seems that Wagner cannot do. And the Magic have made him a key part of their core moving forward.

Of course, there is always someplace a young player like him could improve. We have highlighted his need to get to the foul line more to increase his efficiency. Most fans would say he needs to be more aggressive and take more shots.

But the biggest area Wagner can improve is on the glass. This might be the one thing Wagner has struggled with in his first two years and the biggest area he can improve.

Franz Wagner has okay rebounding numbers. But for a player of his size, those can improve and it will in turn make the Orlando Magic one of the better rebounding teams in the NBA.

Wagner saw similar rebounding numbers in his first two seasons with Orlando. He averaged 4.5 boards per game in year one and in year two that average went to 4.1 per game.

Although these numbers are not horrible, a forward who is 6-foot-10 could be able to exceed this. It would go a long way toward helping the Magic too.

Orlando was not necessarily bad at rebounding the basketball, but they sit in the middle of the NBA rankings for overall rebounding (16th) as well as offensive (15th) and defensive (14th) rebounding. The Magic were eighth in the league in defensive rebound rate (73.0 percent) and even 15th in offensive rebound rate (28.0 percent).

Orlando despite its lack of size and lack of general rebounding from both Paolo Banchero and Franz Wagner was still a good rebounding team.

But that is where something can be gained. This is where the Magic can get better. This is where Wagner can clearly get better.

When it comes to where Wagner rebounds in comparison to his teammates, he is in the middle of the road at eighth in overall rebounding despite his size. Some of this is because he plays mostly on the perimeter and considerably few minutes as the power forward.

Still, this is an area where he can improve.

This seems like it is not a big deal since Orlando has plenty of 6-foot-10-plus players on their team.

The frequency with which Wagner rebounded the ball seems lower than an ideal mark for a forward of his size. Cole Anthony had a better rebound average than Franz Wagner and also had almost as many rebounds as he did in total.

Anthony grabbed 4.8 rebounds per game compared to Wagner’s 4.1 rebounds per game. Anthony had a 9.1 percent total rebound rate meanwhile Wagner was 14th at 6.3 percent total rebound rate.

Among players who are 6-foot-10 or taller, Wagner’s total rebound rate was the fourth-worst in the entire league. And the three players with a worse rate at that height did not even play more than 12 minutes per game.

Similarly, his defensive rebound rate of 9.8 percent was the sixth-worst among players 6-foot-10 or taller and his 2.7 percent offensive rebound rate was fifth-worst (notably Kevin Durant had a worse offensive rebound rate, but he is also Kevin Durant).

Statistically then, Wagner is the worst 6-foot-10 rebounder in the league. And it is not like Wendell Carter or Paolo Banchero are dominant rebounders either.

Wagner was still fourth in rebounding total among Magic players, which initially seems great. But he played in more games than anyone in Orlando meaning that this was bound to end up that way.

The area that seems to bring down Wagner’s rebounding averages to any extent is the rebounds he collects on the offensive side of the floor. He averaged fewer than one per game (0.9) and ranked 10th on the team in offensive rebounding and 15th in offensive rebound rate at 2.7 percent.

He sat on offensive boards below Chuma Okeke, Jalen Suggs and Markelle Fultz. If he can find a way to get on the glass offensively more, it can not only help himself and Orlando in the rebounding department, but it also can help his scoring as he can have second-chance opportunities with it.

When it came to rebounding on the defensive side of the floor, Wagner was not bad but was also not great with defensive rebounding.

To put it into perspective, Wagner was significantly outrebounded on the defensive end of the floor by both Carter and Banchero. These two frontcourt players averaged 6.6 and 5.7 defensive rebounds per game respectively.

Carter and Banchero both were the only two Orlando players who averaged more than 5.0 rebounds per game during last season. Getting Wagner to be a high-volume rebounder with those two big men can help them lighten up the workload on themselves.

So, if Wagner can improve his rebounding enough to move the Magic up the NBA rankings in that stat, just how much will it help Orlando?

Well if you look at the playoff teams from this past season, 10 of them ranked in the top 16 among NBA teams in rebounding. This shows that rebounding as a team can lead to appearances in the postseason.

If Wagner can use his big size and become another very good rebounder for the Magic, it could push them closer to appearing in the playoffs for the first time since 2020.

The Magic likely do not need Wagner to become a dominant rebounder by any means. That is not his role because he plays more on the perimeter. But the Magic need more contributions from him. He probably should not rank among the worst rebounders in the league.

Next. Time To Step Up: Paolo Banchero's efficiency. dark

For Wagner to do this, it starts with fine-tuning the defensive rebounding to a slightly higher number. The improvement then continues to the offensive portion of rebounding where his numbers can improve a lot.