Moritz Wagner has been a big part of Michigan’s success for the past several years, causing many college basketball fans to wonder how Wagner’s game translates to the next level. Wagner tested the NBA waters in 2017, but opted to return to Ann Arbor after mixed reviews at the combine.
Wagner’s offensive ability makes him an intriguing prospect, but his rebounding and defensive skills are not where they need to be to make him a first round pick. Sports Illustrated’s draft analyst Jeremy Woo has Wagner ranked No. 61, and described some of the obstacles Wagner has to overcome to see the floor in the NBA.
A skilled, though slow-footed post player, Wagner made improvements this season but remains a liability on the defensive end. His inside-out game is key to Michigan’s system, and he excels working as a screener and finishing with either hand. His game is effective, but he’s a bit clumsy at times and doesn’t get to the foul line all that often. His rebounding numbers improved significantly as a junior, but he doesn’t block shots or defend well in space, and NBA teams will surely pick on him. Wagner is getting the job done now, but has some major hurdles to clear.
Here’s my NBA draft profile on the German big man.
Moritz Wagner NBA Draft Profile
Strengths: Defensively, Wagner is never going to be Dikembe Mutombo, but the advanced numbers show his defense has improved. His defensive plus/minus nearly tripled this season to 3.6, up from 1.3 a season ago. His overall plus/minus is solid at 7.9. His rebounding also improved to 6.9 boards per game, up from a dismal 4.2 last season.
Wagner has solid post moves and can hit the mid-range jumper. His freshman season he shot just over 16 percent (on 12 attempts) from behind the three-point line, and improved to shoot 39.6 percent from long range this season. Wagner can handle the ball on the perimeter making him most effective when facing the basket. The Michigan big man is good at coming off pick and rolls which will serve him well in the NBA. His shooting along with his ability to run the floor will allow him to get points early at the next level.
Weaknesses: Wagner will have to recover from a poor showing at the 2017 NBA Combine. The Michigan big man needs to get stronger, and still is a liability on defense despite his improvement this past season. He’s not particularly athletic, and his body control needs improvement. A team will take a gamble on him based on his offensive ability, but he may need some development before logging big time minutes.
Summary: Wagner would need to do really well during the pre-draft process to land himself in the first round. If the junior forward comes out, he most likely will be a second round pick. Wagner’s shooting ability plugs him in as an NBA stretch four. He’ll need to prove he is not a defensive liability to keep himself on the floor. Wagner’s scoring threat makes him a rotational player, providing an NBA team offense off the bench.