San Antonio Spurs Draft

San Antonio Spurs Draft Prospects: Moritz Wagner

KANSAS CITY, MO - MARCH 23: Moritz Wagner #13 of the Michigan Wolverines reacts against the Oregon Ducks during the 2017 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament Midwest Regional at Sprint Center on March 23, 2017 in Kansas City, Missouri. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
KANSAS CITY, MO - MARCH 23: Moritz Wagner #13 of the Michigan Wolverines reacts against the Oregon Ducks during the 2017 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament Midwest Regional at Sprint Center on March 23, 2017 in Kansas City, Missouri. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
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A look at draft prospect Moritz Wagner and his fit with the San Antonio Spurs.

The San Antonio Spurs own the No. 18 and 49 picks in the 2018 NBA Draft. With plenty of players to choose from, who will eventually become these selections? Let’s break down one of the options.

After leading Michigan to a Big Ten Conference championship in March, C/F Moritz Wagner is ready to hit the big stage. The near seven-footer has proven himself as an exceptional talent near the rim and on the perimeter with his strong inside-out game.

Wagner’s impressive progression during his three seasons under coach John Beilein makes him one of the draft’s most experienced prospects. He shined on the big stage of the NCAA Tournament and has proven within his conference that he can compete with the best. With shades of his idol, Dirk Nowitzki, scattered throughout his game, Wagner may be the best post player coming out of the draft. In his junior season as a Wolverine, Wagner averaged 14.6 points, 7.1 rebounds and a steal per game on 52.8 percent from the field and 39.4 percent from three.

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His ability to move off the ball and find his own shot makes him a great fit for the modern NBA in many ways. He’s already got the size, strength and swagger of an All-Star caliber player before entering the league. Not only can he bully opposing bigmen down low with an array of shot fakes and post moves, but his his soft touch allows him to shoot from anywhere on the floor. He’s been praised for his fluid shot mechanics and high release point, making him one of the safest players in the draft.

Between the end of the NCAA season and now, Wagner has shown the one trait that he best defines himself by: his work ethic. Since declaring for the draft in a Player’s Tribune piece in April, he’s shown scouts that he’s a gym rat with his eyes set on the top of the game. Because of his floor spacing ability and strong physical attributes, it wouldn’t be farfetched to expect Wagner to contribute straight out of the draft.

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Despite the upside stated, there’s still work to be done for Moe to compete at his best. His size and stature are certainly helpful, but Wagner has left something to be desired as a rim protector and defensive presence. He’s not the fastest guy on the court and on an NBA level, he might not be the strongest either. He’ll have to get by with his high basketball IQ and array of offensive tools.

As for his fit with the Spurs, Moe could fill in a backup big-man role to help alleviate some responsibility from LaMarcus Aldridge. Adding a second floor-spacing big could help to flesh out a more dynamic rotation. This would also pave way for San Antonio to move the Pau Gasol contract should they decide to pursue any big-name free agents.

From what he’s shown during his time in Ann Arbor, Wagner fits fantastically in systems based on ball movement, spacing, and motion. He’s projected to go somewhere between the end of the first round and midway through the second round, meaning San Antonio cannot guarantee they’d land him unless they acquire another pick or move up from No. 49. Despite his fantastic upside, Wagner is not worth spending the No. 18 pick, as the Spurs have an opportunity to snag a prospect who slips to them from the lottery.

The guard trio of Dejounte Murray, Patty Mills and Tony Parker would benefit immensely from a coveted screener like Wagner. Not only does he excel as a roll-man, but he is an expert at the pick-and-pop jumpshot. For a team so heavily reliant on screens, Wagner could be an essential piece for this team going forward.

Wagner tied with Missouri C/F Jontay Porter with the second fastest shuttle run (3.07) for centers at the 2018 NBA Draft Combine. His performance brings hope to scouts that hope to see him improve his defensive versatility despite what his college season may have shown. His footwork is impeccable and his commitment to improvement is something that any team could commend.

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From what he’s shown in his young career, Wagner seems to be a low-risk high-reward talent who wants more than anything to be great. Under the careful watch of Gregg Popovich and the veteran leadership of Aldridge, Wagner could develop into something incredible.

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