The Toronto Raptors draft plans got even more interesting this morning, as Michigan star Franz Wagner announced via The Players’ Tribune that he is going to forgo his final year of eligibility and declare for the 2021 NBA Draft. Wagner was one of the most instrumental pieces in Michigan’s rise to the top this season, as his versatility was lethal.
The brother of NBA center and Michigan alum Moritz Wagner, Franz is a much better NBA prospect. While shorter and skinnier than his brother, Franz is the superior scorer, ball-handler, and athlete, all of which should help him get picked at some point near the end of the lottery in 2021.
Wagner has been regarded almost universally as a top prospect, as Tankathon and ESPN both regard him as a Top 10 prospect. At 6-9 with guard-like handles, Wagner will have plenty of suitors in the modern NBA.
Wagner could be a potential pick for the Raptors at pick No. 8 in the NBA draft. Even if he doesn’t start as a rookie, Toronto’s bench is awful, and they could add a Sixth Man of the Year candidate in the German sensation.
Toronto Raptors draft: Franz Wagner strengths
Wagner is a tremendous offensive player that is one of the best prospects in this class when it comes to creating off of the dribble. With a silky shot, a high basketball IQ that helps him make precise passes, and the ability to rebound well, Wagner was born to play small forward. Given his ball-handling, he could make the move to shooting guard.
His defense can be inconsistent, but when he is at his best, his long arms and tremendous motor help force turnovers. Wagner is the type of low-floor player that could come in and contribute to basically any team next year, though he could make the leap to superstar territory if he ends up replicating his 47% shooting percentage at a high volume next year.
Toronto Raptors draft: Franz Wagner weaknesses
Wagner is a solid defender, but his results in that area can be categorized as unremarkable. As a shooter, he is prone to some serious cold snaps, and when his shot isn’t falling, his slightly above-average athletic ability really limits his value on offense.
The UCLA loss showed, in a nutshell, why Wagner is not regarded as an elite prospect. He didn’t shoot the ball very well, he got into foul trouble early, and he was knocked around by the likes of Johnny Juzang. Wagner’s performance tailed off at the end of the season, and it is a sign of what could happen if he doesn’t adapt to the speed and the physicality of the NBA.
How would Franz Wagner fit with the Raptors?
Wagner will likely get his first NBA minutes at the small forward position, a role that is current;y manned by OG Anunoby. Wagner will be a reserve to start, but his scoring and passing should help make him a starter by his second season who could eventually evolve into a leading perimeter scorer alongside Gary Trent Jr.
Wagner could fill several different roles as a reserve in his first season, and he could be a starter at one of three positions in the future. Wagner will need to be handled carefully if he is going to completely fulfill his destiny as a future Raptors star, but all of the jigsaw pieces are there, Nick Nurse just needs to put them together.