Franz Wagner: Orlando’s Breakout Sophomore

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The Orlando Magic have stocked up on draft talent in recent years, helping their rebuild by taking notable players such as Mo Bamba, Cole Anthony, and now Paolo Banchero.

The last name on the list is projected by many to have a major impact on the team as a rookie; however, he might not be the only one with the spotlight shining on him.

Orlando’s Breakout Sophomore: Franz Wagner

Enter Franz Wagner

Franz Wagner, the eighth pick in last year’s draft and younger brother of center Moe Wagner, averaged 15.2 points, 4.5 rebounds, and 2.9 assists per game in 79 games as a rookie.  He was efficient, too, shooting 46.8% from the field, 35.4% from three, and 86.3% from the free-throw line.

Wagner was solid as a rookie, but he’s been a summer sensation overseas.  He has the potential to break out for the Magic next season, growing the game as a standout international player.

The 21-year-old has spent his offseason with the German national team as part of Eurobasket, and his statistics show his continued growth and promise heading into his second year.  He erupted for 32 points with eight threes in a narrow double-overtime win over Lithuania.  He also had eight rebounds, two assists, and two blocks.  Additionally, Wagner has shot 50% from three (2.2 makes versus 4.4 attempts) while averaging 1.4 steals and 1 block per game.

Wagner’s Growth Bodes Well for Orlando

Wagner’s offensive talent has not gone unnoticed, as he consistently found ways to impact the game as a driver and shooter.  He has also made strides as a playmaking forward, which will be pivotal for the Magic next season.  Defensively, his length at 6’10” is a major boost, and his confidence in protecting the paint is an equally important trait.  Again, being a great player is all about starring in your role, which Wagner has done to a tee since his days at Michigan.

On a team filled with guards and big men, Wagner looks to capitalize on opportunities as a 3-and-D wing next year.  He showed glimpses of it last season, performing very well despite the Magic only winning 22 games.  Some notable games from his rookie year include a career-high 38 points against the Bucks in December, as well as two double-doubles against the Nets and Wizards, respectively. He has proven to be a perfect fit alongside Anthony, Bamba, and other starters, and his on-court chemistry with them and the newcomers will be needed for the team’s success.

Wagner’s microwave scoring and stifling defense will be critical for Orlando next season.  We could be hearing his name more often in the NBA, as he eyes a monster year that could put himself and the Magic on the map.