The 2018 NBA Draft is approaching on June 21, and the Los Angeles Lakers are in the process of working out numerous prospects for their No. 25 and 47 picks. The latest group featured Moritz Wagner, who helped lead Michigan to the Final Four and was named to the NCAA West Region All-Tournament Team.
Nearly a 40 percent 3-point shooter in his sophomore and junior years, Wagner is an intriguing prospect with the Lakers needing more floor spacers on their roster. While the 21-year-old thought it was a good workout overall, he mentioned two areas of improvement.
“Pretty good,” Wagner said of the session. “I didn’t make as many shots as I wanted to, didn’t win as many games, but that’s always the case. It was a good workout, though.”
With Wagner attending Lakers general manager Rob Pelinka’s alma mater, they certainly were aligned in their views of the program. “We know [how good Michigan is],” Wagner joked. “We don’t have to talk about that a lot. We see each other around, it’s obviously good to see a fellow Wolverine. He’s a good dude.”
As Wagner was born in Germany and played for the national basketball team, there are certainly ties to Dirk Nowitzki, who he considers to be his Michael Jordan.
“We know each other and he offers me advice but I mainly leave him alone,” Wagner said. “When I need something, I ask. He’s a legend, so I step back a little bit.”
With Nowitzki preparing for his 21st season with the Dallas Mavericks, there is an opportunity for the two players to play against each other at the highest level.
“Dirk is basketball over there,” Wagner said. “Everyone that starts with basketball starts with Dirk Nowitzki. He’s a symbol. The population is growing, and I’m very proud to be part of that movement. It’s exciting.”
Considered a potential early second-round pick, Wagner believes his shooting will translate best to the NBA but recognizes he will be challenged on defense, especially switching onto guards in pick-and-roll situations.
“I realize that that’s a challenge, so I have to be able to prove I’m able to do that,” Wagner said.
“We didn’t do that in college. It’s no one’s fault, we just didn’t show that we do that. I’m very exciting for that challenge, because I actually feel pretty confident switching. That’s the beautiful thing about basketball, there are new challenges every day.”
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