Hall of Fame Footsteps for Orlando Magic to follow
Hall of Fame Follow: Grant Hill
Orlando Magic Follow: Hedo Turkoglu
The German National Team was in Hamburg on Saturday night preparing for their championship game against Canada in their mini-weekend tournament. They probably were not up that late to watch Dirk Nowitzki’s Hall of Fame induction speech.
Nowitzki made Germany basketball for this new era in addition to revolutionizing the NBA and the way the NBA thought about size and skill. It is fairly safe to say that without Dirk Nowitzki, the Orlando Magic would not have either of the two highly skilled forwards that anchor their team in Paolo Banchero and Franz Wagner.
It is a fairly lazy comparison though to say Wagner should follow in his countryman’s footsteps. He already is and we can see that in the mini-Dirk jumper (the one-legged fadeaway) that Wagner cracked open at times last year.
Wagner though should look to a different Magic alum for his inspiration and the kind of player he should be.
As a 6-foot-10 playmaker with bursty speed to get to and finish at the rim with a variety of shots he can hit inside and out. He is not the more traditional post-up and pop game that Nowitzki displays.
Instead, Wagner feels like a mix of two former Magic players.
Orlando fans have already started to make the comparison between Franz Wagner and Hedo Turkoglu because of his control of pace and passing ability at his size. If anything, Magic fans want the ball in his hands more in the same way Turkoglu had the ball in his hands.
Wagner averaged 4.1 assists per game last year and ran 5.3 pick-and-roll possessions per game at 0.91 points per possession, according to NBA.com’s tracking stats. His usage rate sat at 23.5 percent. Turkoglu averaged 3.9 assists per game (topping off at 5.0 assists per game in 2008) in his eight seasons with the Magic. He had a usage rate of 21.8 percent in a Magic uniform (topping off at 24.8 percent in 2005 and 2008).
Wagner has a lot of Turkoglu’s game in him with the way he attacks the lane and controls the pace of his game. But Wagner actually reminds me a whole lot more of Grant Hill.
While Magic fans likely have bad memories of Hill because of the injuries that slowed him down during seven seasons with the Magic, they likely forget what a dynamic player and attacker he was in his early years with the Detroit Pistons.
Hill averaged 21.6 points per game, 7.9 rebounds per game and 6.3 assists per game in six seasons with the Pistons. He shot 47.6 percent from the floor overall and was a dynamic attacker and slasher at his peak.
Hill averaged 19.9 points per game and 20.2 points per game in his first two seasons as he progressively improved in the early part of his career. Wagner was at 15.2 and 18.6 points per game for his first two seasons. It is the same kind of steady improvement.
This is the kind of player the Magic surely want Wagner to be. Someone who gets downhill and finishes with force in transition. Someone who is a dynamic playmaker able to find the right play no matter what he is doing.
There are already a lot of similarities in their games, and the Magic should hope Wagner continues to improve in this vein.