The NBA Draft is Thursday evening in New York City (7:00 p.m., ESPN). Former Wolverine Moritz Wagner is expected to hear his name, potentially as soon as the back half of the first round.
The latest prognostications for draft night have Wagner pegged as high as No. 21 overall or somewhere in the first ten picks of the second round. Here’s a look at the latest projections and thoughts on Wagner’s standing.
NBA.com’s mock draft has Wagner pegged to come off the board at No. 21 overall.
The Wolverines’ junior played himself into first-round consideration with an excellent season and NCAA Tournament, leading Michigan to the national championship game. He’s a tailor-made modern day big, who’s been a dynamic three-point shooter the last two years (39 percent as a sophomore and a junior) while also being able to put the ball on the deck and get to the rim. Wagner stuck his nose inside as well for Michigan last season, leading the team in rebounding at 7.1 per game. Wagner would be a very different kind of big than Derrick Favors, but he’d be a solid insurance policy for Utah with Favors one of the few quality bigs available in free agency this summer.
ESPN projects Wagner at No. 28 to the Golden State Warriors. Draft Express has consistently been one of the most accurate draft prognosticators over the last decade.
The Warriors are way over the luxury tax and will want to find contributors on cheap rookie contracts. Wagner brings floor spacing and a high-energy style of play. He was one of the breakout players of March, leading Michigan to a Big Ten title and a surprise run to the NCAA championship game.
With a team essentially being built from scratch, developing the right culture is vital. Wagner checks a lot of the boxes as far as being a strong influence and leader, aside from his basketball skills. Is he a team’s long-term answer as a starting center? Probably not, but he could potentially be a valuable addition for a young team like the Hawks.
Sports Illustrated’s mock has Wagner coming off the board early in the second round at No. 32.
Wagner is another player with an outside chance at the first round, but whose NBA outlook can be divisive depending on who you talk to. His size and ability to shoot the three give him a chance to stick as a role player, following in the footsteps of many similar defensive-challenged but offensively talented big men.
Moritz Wagner (No. 39): I have no idea whom Wagner defends at the next level, which pushes him to the second round for me. But the kid has a translatable offensive skill set and is an absolutely terrific teammate who works incredibly hard on his game. My bet is that he figures out a way to make it work.