The Washington Wizards hold the 15th and 44th overall picks in the 2018 NBA Draft. Here is the latest in our series on draft prospects projected to be picked around where the Wizards will select...
2018 NBA Draft Wizards Prospect Preview: Moritz Wagner
Position: Power forward/center
Max vertical: 34
2017/18 stats: 14.6 ppg, 7.1 rpg, 0.8 apg, 1.0 spg, 0.5 bpg, 52.8 FG%, 39.4 3PT% (1.6 3PT/4.1 3PA), 69.4 FT%
Player comparison: Mehmet Okur
Projections: NBADraft.net 33rd, Bleacher Report 29th, Sports Illustrated 40th
5 things to know:
*Wagner is one of the best shooting big men in this class. He measured in at just about 7-feet at the NBA Combine, yet he shot nearly 40 percent from three this past year in college on 4.1 attempts per game. He projects to be a stretch-4 or stretch-5 at the next level and those guys are increasingly valuable in today's NBA.
*He had a decorated college career at Michigan as the best player on the 2017-18 team that reached the NCAA Tournament final game. They lost to Villanova, but Wagner was a driving force of one of the best years in school history. He averaged 15.0 points per game while shooting 38.5 percent from three in their six tournament games. That earned him All-Tournament honors.
*Wagner is a capable rebounder, though not a dominant force on the glass. He averaged 7.1 boards as a junior and 4.2 as a sophomore, his first year with extended minutes for the Wolverines. It doesn't seem like Wagner will be an elite rebounder at the next level, at least early on. He has the size and mobility to get boards, but will need to develop other skills to average double-digit rebounds.
*His weaknesses would include rim protection, free throw shooting and passing. Despite his size, Wagner only averaged a half-block per game this season. Though he can knock down threes, he only made 69.4 percent of his free throws. And despite being a big part of Michigan's offense, he averaged less than one assist per game. Assists aren't a major category for big men, but that is remarkably low. Marcin Gortat, for instance, averaged 1.8 assists per game in the 2017-18 season. Big men can make a significant impact with their passing if they commit to the craft and Wagner isn't exactly Nikola Jokic when it comes to setting up his teammates.
*Wagner is originally from Berlin, Germany and idolized Dirk Nowitzki growing up. It's easy to see in watching Wagner play how he has modeled parts of his game after the Mavs legend. They are of similar size and Wagner can stretch the floor with a smooth outside jumper.
Fit with Wizards: The Wizards like Wagner a lot. He impressed in his workout at Capital One Arena and would give the Wizards several things that they don't currently have.
Wagner is a mobile big man who can run the floor fairly well and has good footwork moving without the ball on the offensive end. Though he doesn't have a huge vertical leap, he can get up there and finish with power at the rim.
Most importantly, Wagner can stretch the floor and the Wizards do not have a player his size who can do that consistently. If he played center, the Wizards could roll out lineups of five players that can hit threes.
More specifically, Wagner could add a pick-and-pop element that the Wizards haven't really had in John Wall's tenure. He has had pick-and-roll partners, but no one has been able to set a screen and then reliably step out to knock down threes.
It would be a brand new dimension and it could make Wall even more dangerous, not to mention the shooters they have in Bradley Beal and Otto Porter who would then have more space to operate off the ball.
The only problem in terms of fit for Wagner and the Wizards is that he is likely to fall somewhere in between their two draft picks. They pick 15th and 44th and he is expected to go late first round or early second round.
Best highlight video:
More draft prospect profiles:
Kevin Knox, PF, Kentucky
Miles Bridges, SF, Michigan State
Robert Williams, PF/C, Texas A&M
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, PG, Kentucky
Zhaire Smith, SG, Texas Tech
Landry Shamet, PG/SG, Wichita State
Gary Trent, Jr., SG, Duke
Lonnie Walker IV, SG, Miami
Anfernee Simons, PG/SG, IMG Academy
Khyri Thomas, SG, Creighton
Chandler Hutchison, SG/SF, Boise State
Kevin Huerter, SG, Maryland
Mitchell Robinson, C, Western Kentucky
Troy Brown, SG/SF, Oregon
Donte DiVincenzo, SG, Villanova
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