Is Franz Wagner on the Kings’ radar? At least one NBA draft expert thinks it’s a done deal and Sacramento will select the Michigan forward with the No. 9 overall draft pick later this month.
“I think Franz Wagner to the Kings seems like an inevitability,” Chad Ford said during a recent episode of the Ryen Russillo podcast. “An Analytics driven front office with one of the top analytics guys, and frankly, a player that probably fits what they need.”
Ford, who for years was the top draft expert at ESPN, was specifically asked about rumors surrounding the upcoming draft. The tidbit about the Kings’ interest in Wagner was the main focus of his answer.
“Maybe one of the worst defensive teams of all-time in Sacramento,” Ford continued. “And I think Franz Wagner is going to be a really good defender at the next level in the NBA. There are so many things that kind of get together slotting him in there.”
Whether Ford was expressing his opinion or if he has an inside run at some information is unknown at this time, but the Kings have held their information very close to the vest.
Wagner did not participate in the NBA combine last week in Chicago, so he didn’t sit down for an interview with the Kings’ brass, like prospects Scottie Barnes, Keon Johnson, Moses Moody and James Bouknight did.
While he’s an interesting player that should be considered when the Kings select at No. 9, he doesn’t really fit the mold of players that we have seen Kings general manager Monte McNair chase during his first nine months on the job.
McNair pursued Derrick Jones Jr. in free agency before the lanky forward signed with the Portland Trail Blazers. He also added Delon Wright, Terence Davis and Moe Harkless at the trade deadline, all of which are long, athletic and play defense.
At 6-foot-9, 220 pounds, Wagner is a versatile forward with some defensive upside, but he doesn’t have the length or athleticism that fits McNair’s mold.
The 19-year-old averaged 12.5 points, 6.5 rebounds, three assists, 1.3 steals and a block as a sophomore for the Wolverines. He knocked down 34.3 percent from long range and has some potential to improve as a shooter.
Wagner can stuff the stat sheet, but at this point, he needs plenty of refinement, which goes for most of the prospects around the Kings’ range.
This is the first rumor surrounding the Kings leading up to the July 29 NBA Draft, but it likely won’t be the last. McNair and his staff are going to kick the tires on plenty of players and they will listen to trade offers for the pick as well.