Re-drafting the 2021 NBA Draft — 5. Franz Wagner, Magic
The Magic can’t wait until the eighth pick to select Franz Wagner this time around. Wagner was probably the most underrated rookie in the NBA this season — he averaged an efficient 15.2 points and immediately gained separation as arguably the centerpiece of Orlando’s rebuild. He’s the perfect modern wing, with a high skill level offensively and ample versatility defensively. He should impact winning in the NBA for a long time.
Wagner was always a plus defensively in college, but there were concerns about his ceiling offensively. Whatever those concerns were — athleticism, 3-point efficiency, finishing in traffic — Wagner quelled them rather emphatically in year one. He doesn’t have the same upside as the four names ahead of him, but Wagner is extremely well-rounded. He’s an intelligent and unselfish player, at times to his own detriment. The Magic need to put the ball in Wagner’s hands more next season to test the full breadth of his offensive skill set.
Orlando has been stuck in purgatory for a while. Wagner isn’t necessarily the path back to relevancy, but he’s right at the center of what Orlando’s building. The Magic have always valued length and defensive versatility in the draft. Wagner provides that, but he’s also the kind of connective tissue offensively that can help guide a team to the next level of contention.