Status: 04/11/2022 08:00
German basketball player Franz Wagner had a strong first season in the NBA. The Orlando Magic were one of the worst teams in the league – Wagner himself was one of the best young players in the NBA.
At the end of the playoffs, the NBA will announce who journalists from the United States and Canada have named as the season’s best rookie (young player). Franz Wagner was number one on this list for a short period during the season. He was not quite able to keep this place, but according to current forecasts, he ends up in a fourth or fifth place. This is a special price.
Staying with the rankings, Franz Wagner has the most points of any NBA rookie this season. 1,197 points in 79 matches. It shows on the one hand that Wagner is doing surprisingly well offensively in the NBA, and on the other hand that despite the high pressure he could play almost all of the season’s 82 games.
No German NBA player was so successful from the start
Wagner played an important role in his freshman season with the Orlando Magic, averaging the second most minutes, shots and points per game. match for the team. No German player has delivered such a strong season in his first season in the NBA. Dirk Nowitzki struggled through many mistakes and initial difficulties in 1998, scoring eight points per game, Dennis Schröder was repeatedly sent to the farm team in the subordinate G-League in 2013.
For the best NBA rookies, the draft system is both a blessing and a curse. In most cases, they end up with the worst teams in the league, which had the best chance of being selected first in the draft. The then 19-year-old Franz Wagner was drawn in eighth place by Magic. The team was one of the worst teams in the league last season – and even worse this season. Wagner’s individual statistics must therefore also be seen in relation to the team and its success.
Franz Wagner impresses with his calm and overview
But even if one disregards the numbers, the winger’s season has been impressive. Uncharacteristic of a rookie, Wagner rarely lost the ball or slowed down the game – his actions in the attack were mostly well thought out, controlled and targeted. The 2.06-meter man often got the ball on the wing in Orlando and then pulled towards the basket – and was quite effective at it, but also from distance.
His hit rate for shots from the three-point line was 35.4 percent, roughly the league average – which is also very good for a player in his first season. Again and again, Wagner let his skills as a game designer shine – even if that’s not his primary role. There is room for improvement with Wagner in his offensive variation. If he wants to be more unpredictable in defense, he needs to find ways to score from mid-range, for example, or be able to score with his back to the opponent. It’s still missing in his game.
Defense is one of Wagner’s strengths
One of his great strengths and a possible insurance for a long NBA career is his defense. In most matches, Franz Wagner has defended the opponents’ best wingers or point guards – including Luka Doncic and LeBron James. On average, his opponents hit less than 42 percent of their shots against him – in this category, Wagner is in the top 10 in the league.
For Franz Wagner, his older brother Moritz played an important role in his first season. He also plays as the center for Magic. He is known for cheering loudly on his teammates. Anyone who watches Magic games and observes what happens when Franz Wagner scores will often see Brother Moritz cheering from the bench. For Moritz Wagner, it’s the fourth season in the NBA. He has experienced many ups and downs in his career and can help his brother get used to everyday life in the professional league.
The future of the Wagner brothers in Orlando
Franz Wagner will most likely play for Orlando for many years to come. In most cases, top rookies renew their contracts with their first team at least once, making it eight to nine seasons. The summer will show if Moritz Wagner continues to play for Orlando.
Franz Wagner and Moritz Wagner
Image: image alliance / ASSOCIATED PRESS | John Raoux
The future of the Orlando Magic is exciting and uncertain. The team consists mainly of very young players who are expected to play an important role. Another will be added via the draft this summer. Chances are Orlando will be among the underperforming teams for at least one more season. But then it had to slowly move towards the playoffs – for it to succeed, some of the young players have to develop into stars. Maybe even Franz Wagner.