Well. There were quite a few solid players on the board at 25 and we walked away with Moritz Wagner. Mo was a fantastic college basketball player, but outside of being a Center with the ability to shoot, really doesn’t offer much value in terms of what he brings to the table at the NBA level. He is below average athletically and EXTREMELY below average defensively in the low post. In fact, his post game in general was pretty bad at the college level, both offensively and defensively.
While I understand the role of Center in the Laker’s offense is more of this stretch/spacing role, the lack of defense and athleticism are highly concerning to me given the build of the team at the moment. NBA offenses are notorious for finding the worst defender and repeatedly attacking them over and over. Unless Wagner miraculously becomes a lockdown defender at the next level, he will get picked on and picked on HARD by stronger, faster, and frankly better players at the next level.
This isn’t to say Wagner doesn’t have some upside. He is without a doubt a great shooter, especially given his size. A big man who can knock down the 3 is a huge bonus in today’s NBA and Wagner undoubtedly has that ability. I love the shooting ability, but just can’t get past the defensive deficiencies. I get the vibe he’s a player we’ll see toil around the league in backup roles for different teams for years to come.
The Lakers have typically knocked these late first/second round picks out of the park in recent years by sticking to a formula. Find a kid who is an above average athlete with a high motor who understands the defensive side of the ball. Wagner checks only one of those three boxes in that he is a gamer with a high motor.
The coming weeks will let us know a lot about the future of the team and its identity moving forward. All of that said, I can’t imagine a world (even a world involving one of if not all of PG, Kawhi, and Lebron) where Wagner fits in with the type of team we trot out in 2018.