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NBA Draft 2018 Rumors: The Michigan Wolverines' Moe Wagner Is an Interesting Sleeper Prospect

Recent mock drafts have Wagner as a possible late first-rounder or second round selection

NBA Draft 2018 Rumors: The Michigan Wolverines' Moe Wagner Is an Interesting Sleeper Prospect

Moe Wagner with the Michigan Wolverines earlier this year | Wikimedia Commons/TonyTheTiger

Michigan Wolverines' big man Moe Wagner has officially declared his intention to be part of the NBA draft.

Wagner made his intentions known in a heartfelt essay for The Player's Tribune, and now that there is no mystery about whether he wants to go pro, NBA teams are now tasked with projecting how good of a player he can become in the league.

Currently, Wagner is not seen by many analysts as one of the elite prospects in the upcoming draft.

There are some mock drafts that have him going near the tail end of the first round, and there are also those that have him being selected in the second round.

Those draft projections for Wagner can seem somewhat surprising because of the way he consistently produced results during his college basketball career, but digging deeper into his numbers reveals why there are analysts who are not super excited about his upside.

While Wagner did increase his production as his role got bigger with the Wolverines, there are concerns over how much of this he can carry over to the NBA.

For him to find success in the NBA, he will have to be a deadly outside shooter as opposed to being a player who is mostly only a threat from beyond the three-point line when he can catch the ball and quickly launch a shot.

Per Sports Reference, Wagner's three-point shooting percentages during his last two college seasons are certainly impressive, but they become less so after taking a look at how he shot from the free throw line.

Wagner did not feature the best free throw stroke during college, and while it isn't a guaranteed sign that he will struggle to shoot long-term, it's at least an indicator that his shot still needs work.

So, does all of that mean that NBA teams should steer clear of drafting Wagner?

That's not the case as well.

While it's certainly possible that Wagner will struggle to connect from deep in the NBA, the fact that he has shown an ability to produce when called upon is a good sign for his future. Wagner's work during college suggests that he is not one to shy away from challenges or responsibilities and it's hard to imagine him not putting in the work needed to be a better and more reliable shooter.

Maybe Wagner's shot is not great just yet, but it's still functional for a big man prospect and if it improves, he can easily turn into a rotation big man in the NBA.

Wagner may not possess the upside to be the next Dirk Nowitzki, but it's not out of the realm of possibility that he will eventually turn into a player similar to the Houston Rockets' Ryan Anderson, another big man who specializes in stretching defenses out to the perimeter with his accurate shot.

Given where he's projected to go in recent mock drafts, Wagner could be an excellent value pick for many NBA teams, and that makes him a prospect who should be monitored closely over the coming weeks and months.


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