Moe Wagner has embraced Orlando Magic's offensive identity

Moe Wagner has embraced and been very successful in the backup center role for the Orlando Magic. He may be one of the NBA's most underappreciated bench players because of his offensive efficiency.

Orlando Magic v Brooklyn Nets
Orlando Magic v Brooklyn Nets / Elsa/GettyImages

When people think of Moe Wagner, there is one thing that comes to mind. Energy.

He has a will and tenacity to make winning plays for the Magic and he made a lot of them Wednesday night in a come-from-behind win for the Orlando Magic over the Washington Wizards, helping Orlando pull away in the late fourth quarter with key buckets around the rim.

That has been something Wagner has provided the Magic throughout the entire season.

Wagner has been a key player for the Magic to get offensive production off their bench. The impact he has had in the past few months has been noticeable and it is finally creating some good play the Magic need.

He is the energy the team needs. And he gives them that lift with every one of his minutes.

Wagner is averaging 11.3 points per game while shooting 59.7 percent from the field this season. So far, it is the best season he has had in his now eight-year NBA career. He is doing this while taking 7.2 shots per game, the second-highest mark in his eight seasons.

Wagner has taken significant strides since the calendar turned to 2024. He has become very effective and efficient around the rim with a shooting percentage of 71.6 percent from five feet and closer. His offensive rating is the highest of his career at 113.7 and his usage rate is one of the highest of his career at 21.8 percent.

Wagner is doing this too by being more assertive attacking the basket. He is averaging a career-low 1.5 3-pointers per game despite having a consistent 3-point shooting season.

Wagner has stepped his game up too as the Magic have gotten closer to the playoff chase.

In 14 games in January, Wagner shot 54.2 percent from the field taking six or more shots in 11 of those games. He was also in double figures for 10 of those games. He kept opposing defenses wary of his three-point shot too, going 9 for 25 (36.0 percent) from beyond the arc.

Februray was no different as Wagner continued to give the Magic the high-volume bench scoring they wanted.

His three-point shot was not nearly as prevalent as it was in January as he went just 2 for 7 (28.6 percent) during the entire month. But, his field goal percentage skyrocketed by taking just a little fewer shot attempts. He shot 64.4 percent while taking only 1.9 fewer attempts from the field per game.

Wagner had eight games in February wehre he took five or more attempts per game. He went for double figures in all of those games. Wagner also had eight games in which he made at least four shots showing the scoring spurts he can put together in a hurry.

By no means is Wagner one of the Magic's big-time long-range shooters, but he tends to cash in every now and then for padded support. What has changed instead is that Wagner is attacking the paint with more consistency.

Wagner is averaging 5.1 field goal attempts per game inside of five feet and is making 71.6 percent of those shots. Last year, he averaged 3.6 attempts within five feet. He has already taken more total shots within five feet this year than he did all of last year.

It makes sense then that Wagner has gotten to the line a whole lot more. If the Magic's biggest offensive philosophy is to put pressure on the rim, Wagner has exemplified this because he finishes at the rim or gets tot he foul line.

Wagner is averaging just 2.8 free throw attempts per game this year, but he 5.5 free throw attempts per 36 minutes is second behind only Paolo Banchero. His free throw production increased in January and February too as he came into his own offensively in his role off the bench.

Wagner's first three games in March against the Detroit Pistons, Charlotte Hornets, and Washington Wizards have seen him continue the strides he has taken in 2024.

He combined for 20 field goal attempts during those three wins and has scored 33 points in those games, shooting 61.5 percent. He got to the line against the Wizards and went three for three in that game.

The frequency of shot attempts is similar to what he had been doing in February and he can continue that throughout the season.

For a team like Orlando that depends so much upon its defense, Wagner's offense off the bench is an astounding addition that will help the Magic go far as the season starts getting into the heat of things with playoff time soon around the corner.

Next. Limiteless expectations 03.07.24. Orlando Magic's expectations limitless in breakout season. dark

He takes the Magic's philosophies to heart and makes good aggressive decisions as he gets downhill to the basket and puts pressure on the rim. And he is doing tthat exceptionally well this season.