5 things to know for the FIBA World Cup
Franz Wagner’s ascendance continues on an international stage
Orlando Magic fans already knew how good Franz Wagner was when he stepped onto the floor at EuroBasket. But even Magic fans did not expect Wagner to look this good.
Germany broke through for a bronze medal at EuroBasket last summer and seemingly took the whole tournament by surprise. Everyone knew Germany would be decent but Wagner’s sudden ascendance to near stardom on that level turned Germany into a medal contender — and figures to keep them in medal contention for years to come.
Wagner averaged 15.2 points per game at EuroBasket last year including a 19-point showing in the win over Greece in the semifinals against Giannis Antetokounmpo. Wagner brought that momentum back to the NBA where his skill and size continue to be difficult for opposing defenses to handle.
So the question then: What comes next for Wagner?
Already in his run with Germany this summer, Wagner has displayed a ton more confidence in his game. He continues to make all the things he was good at even better even as he adds to his already-expansive offensive repertoire.
It looks like Wagner will indeed play a similar role as he did last year for Germany. Dennis Schroder will get the main creation responsibility, but Franz Wagner will have the ball next to him. And he has already shown he can put up points in a hurry.
The biggest thing to watch is the early fourth quarters.
Like with the Orlando Magic, Germany likes to put Wagner in the game early in the fourth to extend their lead. They had several exhibition games where Wagner scored a bunch early in the fourth and put Germany more comfortably in the lead.
This World Cup will be yet another test for Wagner in his seeming assured ascendance.
Moe Wagner does Moe Wagner things
As for Franz Wagner’s brother, Moe Wagner? Well, we kind of know what to expect from him.
Germany brings him off the bench to backup Daniel Theis and he comes in and does all the things we know he does for the Orlando Magic. Do not expect much different in the World Cup.
Wagner plays physically and throws his weight around to bother opponents. He does not give much ground, screening well and bodying up opponents. He is just opportunistic too on how he attacks the offensive glass.
Wagner will not have a lot of plays run for him. But he will fill in gaps on rolls to the basket or pops out to the 3-point line. He will do exactly what you expect Wagner to do.
Germany is second in the latest power rankings provided by FIBA, but still longshots to win the tournament if you believe the betting odds. Let’s be clear then, Germany should be among the contenders to medal in this tournament. They are the team on the rise.
However, it is a crowded field to contend for a medal with France, Spain, Australia and Canada also looking to come away with hardware. And there are always surprises in this tournament.
If Germany has a weakness it is a lack of depth in scoring and an overreliance on 3-point shooting. Germany has a lot of shooters — whether it is Maodo Lo, Johannes Thiemann or even Franz Wagner. They run into trouble when they settle for these outside shots and do not work the ball inside. It is their biggest strength and potentially their biggest weakness.
Germany is in the Group of Death in Group E with matchups against Lauri Markkanen and Finland (Aug. 29, 3:30 a.m.) and Australia (Aug. 27, 4:30 a.m.) in group play. The top two teams in the four-team group advance and Germany should find itself in the second round. But a second-round cross-match with Luka Doncic and Slovenia is the thing to avoid.
Germany will have to have itself ready to go early. But they look up to the task.