Franz Wagner does a little bit of everything, and is the type of prospect who could be a role player right away for many NBA teams. He is versatile on both ends of the floor, and he has a high basketball IQ. Though his raw numbers may not show it, Wagner truly flourished as a sophomore, finishing third in the Big Ten with a plus-minus rating of 11.9 (fifth best in the country), while also finishing among the top four in the conference for both offensive rating (121.8) and defensive rating (91.3). His net rating of 30.5 (the difference between offense and defense) was the fourth best in the conference. His all-around production earned him a spot on the All-Big Ten Freshman Team in 2020, and in 2021, he was All-Big Ten Second-Team selection (Coaches) and an AP All-American Honorable Mention. In his two seasons as a Wolverine, Wagner averaged just over 12 points per game, shooting 46.5 percent from the field, 32.5 percent from three, and 83.5 percent from the free-throw line. He also contributed 6.1 rebounds, 2.0 assists, and 1.3 steals per game over the same span.
Wagner also has some international experience under his belt, playing in 67 games, 58 of which were for Alba Berlin, a team that his brother (Moritz) also played for. Franz Wagner played about 11 minutes a game as a 17-year-old on a team that included former NBA first-round pick Jordan Crawford, former Louisville point guard Peyton Siva, and former Wolverine Derrick Walton Jr. Wagner only put up four shots a game for his international career, but having the experience of playing against professionals will only help Wagner in his transition to the NBA.
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Wagner is a “jack of all trades,” and what makes him a high-level prospect is that he has no glaring weaknesses — he is basically no worse than average at anything. He is able to score inside and out, off the bounce, and off the catch. The majority of his offense this season came from either spot-up plays (33% of his possessions) and as a handler in the pick-and-roll (22% of his possessions), and he ranked above the 60th percentile for points per possession (PPP) in both categories. Eight play types accounted for at least three percent of his offense this season, and his percentiles for PPP ranged from 94th via post-ups to 55th in isolation.
Wagner’s most attractive offensive quality is his ability to be a triple threat. Featuring nice vision and the ability to make quick reads, he is a very good playmaker, especially off dribble penetration. He posted an assist/turnover ratio of 2.32 as a sophomore, which was outstanding for a guy who was not a primary playmaker. There are plenty of point guards who do not have as good of an A/T ratio as Wagner, and with him being 6-foot-9, this will definitely help him at the next level.
Wagner is not elite in terms of shot-creation. His handle is solid, but he is not overly dynamic or explosive off the bounce. Isolation plays accounted for just three percent of his possessions this season. Using side-steps and turnaround fade-aways, the sophomore was very effective shooting off the dribble this season, ranking at 82nd percentile for PPP, but he is not proficient with pull-ups and step-backs. His catch-and-shoot attempts (67) were more than double his off-the-bounce attempts (32), showing that he is not entirely comfortable putting the ball on the floor and shooting. As a driver, he is more effective going right and lacks nifty moves, but that didn’t prevent him from being efficient, partially due to being opportunistic, and also due to good ball security. This season, Wagner led Michigan with 46 total drives and shot 52 percent; within seven feet of the basket, he made 62 percent of his attempts, displaying the ability to finish with either hand. The only negative about his driving ability is that he does not get to the free-throw line very often, averaging 2.8 FTA per game.
Wagner is a much better defender than he gets credit for. He is more versatile than his brother, Moritz, and is a good athlete for his size. He can be beat off the dribble, but he is a great team and overall defender with solid quickness and speed. Wagner is fundamentally sound in terms of his positioning and stance. He plays the pick-and-roll exceptionally well for his size, and also has quick hands with excellent awareness and anticipation. Wagner is a good weak-side shot blocker, and he excels at jumping into passing lanes for steals; he averaged 2.9 combined steals and blocks per 40 minutes this season.
Michigan’s game against Iowa on February 25 was a good example of Wagner’s ability to defend on and off the ball. He kept Joe Wieskamp in check, limiting him to 11 points, as well as helping on the Wooden Award winner, Luka Garza (16 points, FG% of 32), with ball denials and help-side strips. Iowa was one of the best offensive teams in college basketball last season, and Wagner did more than his part to shut down the Hawkeyes. He also scored 21 points on 9-of-12 shooting, which was tied for his highest scoring output of the season.
With Orlando, Wagner can provide an immediate impact on the defensive end. He will be somewhat of a project on the offense end; his three-point shooting and shot-creation need to improve. If this happens, Wagner should become a starter, or at the very least, a high-value role player for many years in the NBA.
- A triple threat on offense — this season, ranked at the 92nd percentile for points and assists per possession (1.308), with a terrific A/T ratio of 2.32.
- Can score at all three levels — good with runners, floaters, hooks, and simple jumpers off the bounce; ranked at the 88th percentile for overall PPP, and ranked no lower than 90th percentile on cuts, off-screen jumpers, and post-ups.
- Intelligent and crafty player with a good ball security; among players with at least 100 offensive possessions this season, ranked at 85th percentile with a TO% of 11.1.
- Very good overall defender, ranking at the 81st percentile for PPP allowed (0.725 PPP).
- Very good defending the pick-and-roll, whether it be the handler or roller; ranked at the 77th percentile vs. pick-and-roll ball handlers (0.597 pointer per possession) and at the 88th percentile vs. the roll man (0.50 PPP).
- Aware defensively, with active hands — very effective as a help defender, active in the passing lanes, and adept at poking the ball away in the paint; averaged 2.9 combined steals and blocks per 40 minutes this season.
- Sum is greater than the parts — a very young sophomore with pro experience and no glaring weaknesses; ranked fifth in the country this season with a plus-minus rating of 11.9.
- Not an elite finisher — made a modest 54.5 percent of all half-court shots within seven feet this season.
- Not an explosive or dynamic ball handler, lacking the ability to consistently create space and sometimes struggling to turn the corner on defenders.
- even when he starts to go left he’ll often revert back to his right
- Release is a bit slow off the catch due to a dip; made just 34 percent of his catch-and-shoot jumpers this season, ranking at the 54th percentile for PPP.
- Doesn’t draw many fouls, averaging just 2.8 FTA per game; has a tendency to fade away from contact when going to the rim.
- Struggles as a defender in isolation, ranking below the 25th percentile for PPP allowed for two consecutive seasons.
Sources, Credits, and Acknowledgements
Stats used in our scouting reports come from Synergy Sports Technology, RealGM.com, and Sports-Reference.com. Other outside sources are noted with links to the source. Click here to see the statistical abbreviation key.