Wagner NBA Draft Comparables

Submitted by AC1997 on December 19th, 2017 at 2:02 PM

Today in his UV post Brian mentioned that Wagner's draft stock is still middling at best.  The same topic was discussed during last week's WTKA podcast.  While I acknowledge that it is still very early in the season and that I would LOVE for Mo to return next year.....this NBA stuff seems insane. 

I intended to make this a Diary with more detail behind it, but I just don't have the time this week.  So you get the short version.  I looked at four players who I consider to be comparable to Wagner based on their size and skill set.  Below in the table you'll see their stats and measurables then their draft position.  Someone tell me how Wagner isn't a first round pick when you look at this table.  Heck, the infamous "his arms aren't freakishly long like Mo Bamba" argument doesn't even work based on this data!  

Mo Wagner ('17) 6'11" 7'0" 240 15.6 7.6 0.9 44.6 38.3 62.4 27.1 ???
Lauri Markkanen 7'0" 7'0" 230 15.6 7.2 0.9 49.2 42.3 58.4 25.0 R-1, #7
Domantas Sabonis 6'11" 6'10.5" 240 13.5 9.4 1.3 63.2 35.7 63.6 27.4 R-1, #11
TJ Leaf 6'10" 6'11" 225 16.3 8.2 2.4 61.7 46.6 65.2 26.6 R-1, #18
Dragan Bender 7'1" 7'0" 225               R-1, #4

Some caveats:

  • Stats in that table are from college careers, which Bender didn't attend.
  • Wagner's stats are just for this year because including his freshman year knocks them down a ton compared to guys who spent less time in college.  Yes, this is not entirely fair but I'm using stats to make my point.  
  • I tried to pull height/weight/arm data from the NBA combine for consistency, but not all of the players attended.  So I pieced together some of that.
  • Please sanity check my data since I rushed to post this after Brian's UV today.


uncle leo

December 19th, 2017 at 2:44 PM ^

Is he declaring for the draft in the middle of the season? Did he get picked up by the D league and he's just going to leave college?

The title is fine. All you need to do is take about 4 seconds and read the first part and you'll be good.


December 19th, 2017 at 4:29 PM ^

It was just surprising to see someone take so much time in the body of the thread but got lazy with the title. Not a big deal. I think others agreed and the title was edited appropriately.

Carry on


December 19th, 2017 at 2:12 PM ^

but a critical factor which is missing is age.  Right, wrong, or indifferent the younger you are the more the NBA looks at your developmental potential.  A 21 year old putting up similar numbers as a 19 year old is not the same.  

uncle leo

December 19th, 2017 at 2:26 PM ^

About that. I think his stock is pretty much locked in where he is. 

The expectation was that he would build on a great 2nd season and really catapult his status into the top 15. Every mock has him at the end of the first, if at all. 

He needs to play a lot better than he has so far. The eye test shows that this season, he is not ready for the NBA. 


December 19th, 2017 at 6:06 PM ^

I think you're right that his stock is fairly locked in, unless he gets some go-go gadget arm extensions and starts blocking/altering shots.

So you don't want to end up a 4th year player that plateau'd in your 3rd year.  If you stay and get a year older and don't improve, it's a killer.

I do think he has a path to improve his stock (I also don't think he's as low as 68th. These sites were saying that about DJ just a few weeks before he declared and had multiple 1R promises. These sites aren't dialed into what GMs are thinking at this point, it doesn't seem.  They're just trying to make guesses themselves EDIT: He's 28th on NBADraft.net sooo yeah):

1) He can get more consistent on offense.  He's still pretty streaky and goes through some rough stretches. 

2) He can also improve his help defense, even if his T-rex arms prevent him from being a shot blocker.  He too frequently stays near his guy instead of helping on drivers.  I'm hopeful for him that he'll do those things and get to the first round. 

Honest Abe

December 19th, 2017 at 2:25 PM ^

I think he could be Dirk or he could be Darko. Im not sure if another year after this year changes my opinion. We will just have to wait and see how he does in the league. Unfortunatley for him, i think the league GMs will lean more towards Darko and less towards Dirk. Hope he ends up being Dirk or at least, not Darko.


December 19th, 2017 at 3:53 PM ^

Yes because he went to the NBA combine and they measured.  It's hard to find all that info from the foreign players but I was able to find all of Leaf's and Wagner's



Standing Reach: 9'0"

Hand Length: 8.75"

Hand Width: 10.75"

Lane Agility: 12.00

Shuttle Run: 2.98

3/4 Sprint: 3.35

Standing Vert: 25.5"

Max Vert: 32.5"



Standing Reach: 8'11"

Hand Length: 8.5"

Hand Width: 9.5"

Lane Agility: 11.55

Shuttle Run: 3.27

3/4 Sprint: 3.27

Standing Vert: 29"

Max Vert: 34.5"


December 19th, 2017 at 5:52 PM ^

The standing reach is a good proxy, and 9'0 for a 6'11 guy isn't that great.

Also those vertical numbers are really bad for Wagner.  Not surprising given his complete inabiliy to block/alter shots.  He lacks the athleticism and length to do that.

But he is so skilled on offense.  Someone will pick him up in the first round, I bet.


December 19th, 2017 at 2:28 PM ^

He is pretty much the same player he was late last year. He still can dominate a game and he still can go broke and struggle. He's an average defender but obviously gives it his all. Also the NBA cares a lot about potential (age) and pure athletic ability and frame etc. that doesn't show up in college stats.

Unless he can really improve his consistency for the remainder of the season, I don't see him being a 1st round lock.


December 19th, 2017 at 3:08 PM ^

I disagree with this. His body is a lot stronger and his rebounding numbers are markedly improved. He also has doubled his assists per game and cut down a bit on fouls (which is a big thing for him).


December 19th, 2017 at 2:31 PM ^

No defensive or block stats included which hurts Wagner. Age also matters, Wagner is young for his class, still older than the other guys at the time they were drafted. How the points were got can matter too, Wagner doesn't have much of a back to the basket game, is weak on the interior on defense and as a result plays more like an nba 4 than a 5 and doesn't have the foot speed to play the 4.

Look at what happens to Wagner on defense against good wide bodied centers in college, he's a big defensive liability.  He can help a team looking to spread the floor on offense, but does his ability to hit a 3 outwweigh his ability to not create from the post or play defense and rebound? That is how you get the draft grade. TJ leaf is a 4 in the nba, so is DJ wilson, if Wagner can't show he can guard 4's on the perimeter or 5's in the post he isn't a viable player in the nba. 


December 19th, 2017 at 4:56 PM ^

Mo has enough of a skillset that he can be a role player even if he can't guard anyone. Obviously that limits his upside and draft position, but he could be a bench unit floor spacing center at the least.

There are all kinds of weird and "flawed" players in the NBA I just hope Mo ends up on a team that's a good fit.


December 19th, 2017 at 2:52 PM ^

I think what hurts is his relative lack of athleticism and physicality. He tends to play smaller than his size, and loses the inside edge and rebounding fights against other elite college talent. 

He has better than aveage to excellent shooting touch. But in today's NBA, at that size, you need more speed and physical dominance. 


December 19th, 2017 at 4:10 PM ^

He's just an OK rebounder (even though he's improved this year), he's a below average defender and his shooting is very good, but not great (e.g., it's not particularly quick; he has college range but not sure about NBA). He has good quickness, and can dribble in small spaces, but he's not particularly strong.

Combine that with a lack of discipline / fouls that still crop up regularly, I'm not sure how he gets drafted in RD1.


December 19th, 2017 at 6:18 PM ^

stretch 4 in the NBA.  He's just not a good defender.  But stretch 4/wing is where he'll play on offense. 

The NBA is largely positionless, anyway.  There's essentially three roles you can play on offense: creator, pick-and-roll-lob-dunker/oreb guy, or shooter (or any combination of the three) and Mo is good enough to be a creator (for himself at least) and/or shooter (provided he adjusts to NBA range).

There's really only two roles you can play on defense: interior rim protector and/or perimeter defender.  The NBA loves guys that can do both, Wagner can do neither and that's going to be his limitation.

If he's absolutely lights out as a creator/shooter like Dirk, he can still be a superstar despite being a bad defender.  That's a tough task though, because Dirk was unbelievable.


December 19th, 2017 at 4:56 PM ^

How so?

I'm pretty sure I don't watch as much NBA basketball as some of the other people posting in this thread, but when comparing Mo's game to the NBA, I don't see this unique skillset that you think he has.


December 19th, 2017 at 3:40 PM ^

Here are some responses to the comments so far:

  • Sorry about the title, not sure what happened there.  Fixed.
  • I don't agree that "he's the same as last year".  His rebounding is way up and I think he's been more consistent throughout the season.  I think there have been more examples of him getting some clutch late-game baskets than being glued to the bench most of the game with fouls.
  • While I agree 100% that his issue is that he's not big/physical enough to be a 5 and not quick/athletic enough to be a 4....are any of the other guys I mentioned?  I specifically added a couple of them because of a write-up I read on The Ringer about their ups and downs.  Not all of those guys are successful in the NBA yet for the same reason we wonder about Wagner, but they were all picked in the top 18 picks, which was the point.
  • Age is a factor and something I should have included since the NBA drafts on "potential" as much as any other attribute.
  • The wing-span metric for Wagner came directly from his NBA draft combine measurements so I think it is correct.  

My point was that I don't see a notable difference between Wagner and all of those early first round picks.  He's probably not going to go that high, but having him rated at #68 seems crazy.  If that's true, some savvy team will take him in the second round and use him off the bench in an effective way.


December 19th, 2017 at 3:44 PM ^

The next level will present challenges for him defensively and strength wise but the kid has huge upside. Can't imagine him not being a 1st rounder although I do see a steep learning curve for him to log effective minutes for an NBA franchise.