Laker Film Room on Mo Wagner

Submitted by kehnonymous on June 25th, 2018 at 4:06 PM


Really insightful and pro-quality scouting breakdown of Mo Wagner by Laker Film Room.  Yes, most of you hate the Lakers but at least you can appreciate a fan quitting his day job to sports blog for a living.

Pros:  Fantastic as a spot-up shooter with a quick release, and also adept as aroll guy popping out to the 3 pt arc.  Deadly at punishing close-outs.  Goes all out all the time, especially in transition which will net him a ton of dimes from Lonzo, who excels at grabbing defensive rebounds and immediately zipping the ball 80 ft.  Quick hands serve him well as a help defender.

Cons:  Slow at switching on defense.  Not strong enough yet to back down his guy in post-ups.  Still paying alimony to Nick Ward's ankles



June 25th, 2018 at 4:20 PM ^

I have some advice for him to ensure he has a successful career with the Lakers.

Pass the ball to Lebron.   Set picks for Lebron.  When you get open he WILL find you with the ball so be ready to shoot.  And if you hit your shots more often than not you'll see the ball a lot cause he always feeds the guys he believes in.

Your welcome.

Oh...and make friends with Paul George & CP3 too.  They're buddies with Lebron so you're going to want to make nice with them too.

Space Coyote

June 25th, 2018 at 4:30 PM ^

His offensive game is really well suited for the league. Pick and pop, fills for vacated slashers well, has a good feel for voids in the defense, and improved as a finisher around the rim.

His success really is about his weakness, but his D weakness is still pretty big. Really needs to improve his positioning, and a lot of that comes from what he does off the ball (both on help defense and handling people who post him up prior to the ball being in his hands). Has to get stronger, has to improve his awareness on that side of the ball. I don't think he'll ever be a great defender, but if he can figure that out he can be serviceable and provide a good deal of ability on the offensive end.


June 25th, 2018 at 4:35 PM ^

I love Moe and it was the right decision for him to go but I honestly don't know how he lasts in the NBA. He can't guard NBA 4's on the perimeter and he isn't even close to strong enough to handle 5's on the block. He doesn't have the speed to create his own shot at the 4 and doesn't have the post up game to make it work on the block against 4 or 5's. He is going to have to shoot 40% from 3 to even justify being a bench piece. I hope I'm wrong but I just don't see it at that level.


June 25th, 2018 at 4:45 PM ^

I don't think the inability to guard guys on the block is that bad in today's NBA because very few teams put a guy on the block anyway.  What's more important will be his ability to switch or hedge pick and rolls and keep guys from going around him.  That's a crucial skill for NBA bigs.  He likely will struggle there though.

However, I absolutely think he can create his own shot in the NBA.  Rick Pitino tried to guard him with the quicker small Deng and Wagner still was able to drive on him.  He can also step back on just about anybody.

If he can shoot threes from NBA range (not a given - see Nik Stauskas), he'll have a role as an offensive spark off the bench.  If he can also guard pick and rolls (this is the bigger question and I bet this is what doesn't click) at the NBA level, he could be a starter.


June 25th, 2018 at 5:02 PM ^

The chances of Mo being a guy who can create his own offense are remote. That's not a killer, as the vast majority of guys in the league can't consistently create their own offense. That game against Louisville, while impressive, is hardly representative of his NBA future, especially considering that Deng Adel isn't an NBA-caliber player. Wagner won't be out getting step-back looks against NBA athletes.

His ceiling is probably back-up center on a good team given his defensive limitations, but you can have a long career as a pick and pop big against other bench units.

Space Coyote

June 25th, 2018 at 4:47 PM ^

I think he has to be a 5 in today's game. There is really no fit at the 4 for him with his athleticism. I think he can still add a lot of strength, and his post game has improved year-to-year (he played wing in Germany, so he's still pretty raw there, especially because Michigan doesn't emphasize it at all, and the game as a whole is emphasizing it much less). 

Like I said, I don't think he'll ever be a great defender, but he can get stronger and work on his defensive IQ and get to a place where he is adequate from a defensive standpoint, and then his feel for the game and shooting ability can overcome average athleticism. There is a path there to success, but it isn't a given.

But I think he's a 5 all the way.


June 25th, 2018 at 4:58 PM ^

You can paper over his lack of athleticism to some extent with coaching, scheme and hoops IQ - Duncan Robinson could attest to that, though there's a... bit of a gap between the NCAA and the NBA.  FWIW, there were similar concerns about Lonzo Ball's D, but he wound up being a legitimately good/great defender by the season's end.

(It's also possible that Mo was selected with a possible Kawhi deal in the back of their mind, since the Spurs traditionally love getting sweet-shooting Europeans)


June 25th, 2018 at 4:57 PM ^

"I don't know how he lasts in the NBA."

An insightful poster recently offered several possible areas of growth that provide opportunities for Moe to carve out a solid niche in the NBA should he develop in those directions, and perhaps even turn into a good starter. Relevant quotes:

"...guard NBA 4's on the perimeter..."

"...handle 5's on the block."

" up game..."

"...shoot 40% from 3..."

Like many players, Moe has a lot of potential and a lot of things to work on. At age 20, armed with a guaranteed first-round contract and perhaps an opportunity to develop his skills in the G-League for a while, there are a couple of areas where hard work might yield real results and turn him into a guy that has a sustained career in the NBA.

Of course, right now he doesn't have all of these assets, but few guys have reached their maximum level of potential at that age, so it seems quite possible for him to grow in one or more of those areas to "last" in the NBA. Nothing is guaranteed, but he has the time and the resources to do so. It'll be fun to see how he does. 


June 25th, 2018 at 5:14 PM ^

If Mo stays healthy and avoids Kardashians I don't see how he doesn't last 8 years. 

Absolute worst case scenario Mo will still be useful for 8-10 minutes/game as a floor spacing bench unit 5. Most NBA teams have spacing issues with their bench units, particularly contenders with multiple stars who like to keep at least one star on the court at a time. 

Look at Channing Frye post age-30. Doesn't defend well, doesn't really rebound, still a good spacing/chemistry guy who can help a good team in a limited role or fill a bigger role on a lesser team. 

matt D

June 25th, 2018 at 5:41 PM ^

As an avid Laker fan, I can attest to Pete's (Laker Film Room) work and the corresponding quality. He is the equivalent of Brian and co. (and frankly held in higher regard by Laker fans) for the Laker community.

The general feeling among casual Laker fans with Mo is slight disappointment, he's not a big name and so he doesn't create buzz in a town that's all about being buzzworthy. He has some obvious holes in his game based on lack of athleticism and defense.

Among the more educated Laker fans (and there is a large contingent), Mo is viewed as a backup center that will should be able to carve out a decent role as a stretch 5 and have a decent career. This segment of the fan base can see his utility based on desired roster construction, but realizes he's not a starter-quality player as he's one-dimensional to a large degree. This segment also gives the Laker scouting department the benefit of the doubt based on their 5 year draft history, which is superb.

My take - I think Mo is a good fit based on team personnel and areas that require improvement, at least on the offensive end. Wagner can provide floor spacing for shot creators such as Brandon Ingram, Lonzo Ball and Julius Randle. Of course we all know the desired roster includes Lebron and/or Paul George and/or Kawhi Leonard...………….and Mo is the perfect fit to go along side those guys. That said, I don't think Wagner will ever be a starting center on a good team. Its nearly impossible to be a starting center in the league without providing rim protection and the ability to switch on the perimeter absent ELITE offense. We're basically talking DeMarcus Cousins and Mo isn't anywhere near that level.

I think Mo is somewhere between an extremely poor man's version of Brook Lopez (can stretch the floor from distance, but he doesn't provide the rim protection or post offense of Lopez while being 3-4 inches shorter) and Channing Frye (stretches the floor, similar size, but Mo is better in transition and can attack a closeout off the dribble).


June 25th, 2018 at 7:41 PM ^

I'd agree with that - and good to see another Laker fan here.  Mo's ideal niche is off the bench to catalyze the second unit; you definitely don't want him anchoring the 5 spot against starters for too long.  Forum Blue and Gold (where LFT moonlights) is also another quality Laker blog, btw.  Generally you can tell the casual Laker fans from the knowledgeable ones by their hot takes (or lack thereof) on the Ball family.

Rookies Josh Hart and Kyle Kuzma were present for Wagner's workout and immediately saw him as a guy they'd love to team with, even elbowing Magic to tell him to draft Mo.  Though their infatuation might've been short-lived:


. @moritz_weasley is a funny guy.....ugly but funny

— Josh Hart (@joshhart) June 23, 2018


June 25th, 2018 at 7:48 PM ^

Hopefully Moe can provide more of an outside shooting threat than Brook Lopez. Lopez didn't attempt any 3's his first 4 seasons in the NBA, and now he's still a slightly-below-average shooter at 34%.

Lopez had a very down year, so the need and opportunity for Moe will certainly be there. Will be interesting to watch whether or not his defense is decent enough to keep him on the court.