Lurking behind all the marvelous shooters and rangy defenders and bouncy wings is a two-way tweener standing 6-foot-9 with a 7-foot-1 wingspan. Franz Wagner is not exactly a secret, but he’s so different that NBA draft projections can’t seem to pin him down. Though he is among the players invited to the draft-night green room, the 19-year-old German has as much chance of sneaking into the top seven as he does of being selected just outside the lottery. Some team will fall in love with Wagner’s all-around game and invite the Michigan Wolverine onto their roster. Wagner possesses many attributes that fit seamlessly within the Warriors’ style of play. High basketball IQ? Check. Defends multiple positions? Check. Willing passer? Check. Creative passer? Check. Solid handles? Check. Feels the game? Check and check. For good measure, Wagner (pronounced VAHG-ner) has guard skills strong enough to initiate offense and has in his arsenal a highly effective euro-step that should translate in the NBA. Wagner started all 55 games during his two seasons with the Wolverines, posting career-highs of 22 points, 14 rebounds, six assists, five blocks, and four steals. The last two categories offer a hint of why he’s so intriguing to NBA teams. It’s not often that an extra-long wing can compete on the defensive end early in his career. Scouts that have seen Wagner believe that, even though he’ll be 20 years old on opening night, it won’t take him long to contribute on that end, on and off the ball. It is Wagner’s shot that doesn’t impress as well as other parts of his game. He’ll need to quicken the release on his jumper while also becoming more accurate. Hope lies in the fact that he’s an above-average shooter from the free throw line.
Is Wagner in the mix for the Warriors? His name is not among those I’ve heard mentioned over the past couple of weeks. But if the Warriors hang onto the No. 7 and No. 14 selections and he’s available for the latter pick, his all-around ability makes it conceivable. Franz Wagner Profile
Position: Small forward
Birthdate: Aug. 27, 2001
2020-21 season averages: 12.5 points (47.7 percent FG, 34.3 percent 3-point, 83.5 percent FT), 6.5 rebounds, 3.0 assists, 1.3 steals, 1.0 blocks.
NBA comps: Nemanja Bjelica, Kyle Anderson, Lamar Odom
What they’re saying: “Franz has always been the type of guy that loves getting into the gym and working on his game. He’s never made excuses for himself. He’s accepted it, and he’s gotten better and better with it. I’m not surprised.”
– Michigan coach and 14-year NBA player Juwan Howard, on Wagner’s second-year improvement