Mo Bamba: Franz Wagner is ‘years ahead’ of rookie status for Magic

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·3 min read
Mo Bamba: Franz Wagner is ‘years ahead’ of rookie status for Magic
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ORLANDO, Fla. — In a game that featured No. 1 pick Cade Cunningham, it was eighth pick Franz Wagner that stole the show to lead the Orlando Magic to a 119-103 win over the Detroit Pistons.

Wagner produced a game-high 24 points and three rebounds for his 12th 20-point performance, the most by a rookie this season. He finished by shooting 7-of-12 from the field, including 2-of-3 from 3-point range, in 27 minutes of work.

“I really just think he did a great of reading the defense, being aggressive and taking what the defense gave him,” Magic head coach Jamahl Mosley said of Wagner. “The ability to play with confidence and his teammates finding him. His basketball IQ is really high, as well as his teammates want to find him and he’s going to make the right play.”

The contest featured three players selected within the first eight picks in the NBA draft, including fifth pick Jalen Suggs, who had six points and four assists. Suggs was often matched up on Cunningham and limited the top pick to just eight points on 3-of-17 shooting from the field.

Wagner got started early in the contest, recording 13 points alone in the first quarter. He outscored the Pistons by himself for much of the period to help the Magic race out to a 39-19 advantage after the first frame. Orlando shot 68.2% in the first quarter, compared to 26.1% for Detroit.

He credited his fast start to staying aggressive out of the gate.

I just tried to be aggressive. I felt good, got to the line a couple of times. When you get fouled early, I think that always helps get you into a rhythm. Then just moving off of the ball, getting some easy baskets at the rim. I just tried to be aggressive.

Wagner, who leads the rookie class in total scoring, has often drawn praise from his coaching staff and teammates. He has been commended for the work he has put in on and off of the court, something he believes has helped him have a strong start this season.

The 20-year-old has proven that he can score in a variety of ways given his deep arsenal of moves on offense. He has been credited with playing well beyond his years, which teammate Mo Bamba noted after the victory on Friday.

Franz is years ahead of his status as a rookie. He is playing really good basketball for us. I think it is mainly because of the preparation that he puts into it. He is always working on different aspects of his game. He is just so multidimensional that if he isn’t able to slash as well, then he is off to the 3-point line. If he is not on from the 3-point line, then vice versa. He is such a good passer, it just adds another layer to how we can beat teams.

Wagner has emerged as perhaps the top two-way rookie this season. With his vast offensive repertoire, and ability to defend nearly every position on the court, Wagner brings quite a bit of versatility to the floor and that is on display each game.

The display by Wagner has certainly been one bright spot for the Magic (10-40) to this point of the season. The team is rebuilding, but Wagner has looked to have exceeded expectations by a wide margin.

This post originally appeared on Rookie Wire! Follow us on Facebook!

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