2021 NBA Draft: How Michigan's Franz Wagner fits Warriors, Kings

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How NBA draft prospect Wagner fits with Warriors, Kings originally appeared on NBC Sports Bayarea

  • This is the fifth installment of a series breaking down the potential selections for both the Sacramento Kings and Golden State Warriors in the 2021 NBA Draft.

July 29 is just around the corner. It’s the day that the NBA holds its annual draft and for two local teams, it should be an extremely busy 24 hours. 

For one of the few times in recent memory, the Warriors and Kings select in the same draft range, which means that they can impact each other’s draft strategy dramatically. 

We’ve already taken a deep dive into Florida State’s Scottie Barnes, Arkansas’ Moses Moody, Keon Johnson out of Tennessee and UConn’s James Bouknight. Next up on the list is Michigan’s Franz Wagner, who is scheduled to go somewhere between No. 7 and No. 14 on draft night.

Stats

Stats: 12.5 points, 6.5 rebounds, 3.0 assists, 1.3 steals, 47.7% FG, 34.3% 3-point FG

Age: 19 Height: 6-foot-9 (estimated) Weight: 220 Wingspan: 7-foot (estimated)

Wagner skipped the measurement portion of the combine so his numbers are not 100 percent guaranteed. 

Instead of coming out after his freshman season at Michigan, Wagner stuck around for another year to strengthen his draft position. While he didn’t take a huge leap forward in production, he did improve specific skills that make him more marketable as a prospect.

Wagner is inconsistent as a scorer, putting up 20 or more points just four times in 28 games, with a high of just 21, which he accomplished twice. He also failed to hit double-figure scoring 11 times in his sophomore season. Wagner grabbed double-figure rebounds four times and notched three double-doubles on the season. 

Strengths

Wagner is a jack-of-all-trades prospect that can fill a stat sheet. He’s continued to grow and there are rumors that he’s measured in closer to 6-foot-10 with a 7-foot-plus wingspan. He’s filled out and there is potential for him to play both forward positions at the next level, which adds to his value.

As an offensive player, he’s a work in progress. He’s improved his 3-point stroke and was used as a floor spacer at Michigan. He needs to continue to refine his shot if he hopes to take another step forward at the NBA level.

He plays well without the ball, both as a catch-and-shoot option and as a cutter. He is crafty around the rim and can finish in traffic. He also shot 83.5 percent from the line on 2.8 attempts per game as a third option in the Wolverines offense.

Wagner showed promise as a secondary distributor in his sophomore season, posting a 3-to-1.3 assist-to-turnover ratio. His usage rate was just 19.7 percent and he managed a 17.4 percent assist rate.

While he isn’t an elite athlete, Wagner is an above-average defender. He has the versatility and size to defend multiple spots on the floor and he’s a player that is rarely out of position. He’s a high basketball IQ player on both ends of the court and should be a very good team defender.

At the college level he averaged 1.3 steals and a block per game. The steals should translate well, although he might have a difficult time keeping his block rate when the athletes are bigger, stronger and more refined. 

Lastly, Wagner averaged 6.5 rebounds last season, with most of the boards coming on the defensive end. If he is going to play major minutes at the four, he’ll need to produce at this level in the NBA.

Weaknesses

Wagner’s lack of elite athleticism is a concern, especially if he is going to stick at the three. There is a chance that he can improve his quickness and agility with an NBA training staff, but there are limitations. 

While he improved his 3-point shooting from 31.1 percent in his freshman season to 34.3 percent in year two, he still needs refinement. He looks the part of a floor spacer, but consistency is still an issue.

Outside of the 3-point shot, Wagner didn’t score like you would have hoped. He was a third option at the college level and he basically put up the same numbers in his freshman and sophomore seasons at Michigan. He has some potential as a scorer, but he hasn’t taken the kind of leap you would expect from a lottery pick.

Wagner is a strong defensive rebounder, but he’s non-existent on the offensive glass. He plays on the perimeter for much of his time on the court, but with his size, he should have at least been able to help out in this area.

Overall, Wagner should be a very solid NBA player, but there has to be at least some concern about his ceiling. He makes up for a lot of his deficiencies with his basketball IQ and versatility. 

RELATED: 2021 NBA Mock Draft 8.0: Warriors, Kings' first-round picks

Fit with Warriors

Wagner can go anywhere from No. 7 to 14 in this year’s draft, although there is buzz about him landing in the top 10. Golden State might be able to find better value at No. 7, but if he makes his way to No. 14, it’s a no-brainer.

This is a smart player that can step in and play minutes early in his career. He could fit in the starting lineup alongside Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green or come off the bench as a solid sub with potential for more.

There is hope that Wagner can become a more reliable perimeter shooter, which is something that the Warriors are always in the market for. He’s a low-risk player that can fill multiple roles and isn’t going to get in the way. 

Fit with Kings

Wagner looks like a high-level role player at the next level. His versatility to play both forward positions and his switchability on defense is intriguing. He’s also close to being able to suit up in his rookie season and play rotational minutes.

There are higher ceiling players around this point in the draft, but Wagner checks a lot of boxes. If he improves as a 3-point shooter, there is potential for him to be a long term starter, floor spacer and secondary distributor. 

This is a high basketball IQ player that understands how to impact winning. He would help the Kings’ porous defense and there is potential for him to develop into a foundational player. He’s also a very good fit in a lineup with De’Aaron Fox, Tyrese Haliburton and Harrison Barnes.

Player Comparison

High end: Joe Ingles, Otto Porter

Low end: Kyle Anderson, Al-Farouq Aminu