Michigan Basketball: The latest rumors on Franz Wagner, NBA draft

Checking out the latest rumors on former Michigan basketball star Franz Wagner and the 2021 NBA draft. 

About five days ago, a rumor came out that the Sacramento Kings have promised a draft slot to former Michigan basketball standout Franz Wagner if he is still available at their pick (#9). Here is the tweet:

While there are tons of rumors and smokescreens put up by various NBA teams in the weeks leading up to the draft, there is a legitimate reason to believe that this tweet is true.

The Sacramento Kings have been linked to Franz for weeks, with various mock drafts only further fueling the fire.  If this holds true, it would be the same team that drafted Nik Stauskas at #8 in the 2014 NBA Draft. 

Why I hope it’s not the case

To finally see a Michigan basketball player go in the top-10 again would definitely be a joy to see for us diehard U-M fans. We have all experienced an excellent decade of basketball, with several great players coming and going through the program. Despite all of this success, Franz would only be the third top-10 pick of the decade, which is insane to think about.

Listen, the Sacramento Kings have some history of past success (like their early 2000s teams that gave the mighty Lakers some memorable playoff games) but generally, they have not drafted well, have been marred in inconsistency, and have definitely not developed their draft picks in recent years well at all.

Take Stauskas for example. He was a great shooter coming out of Michigan, with tremendous upside as a potential 3-and-D kind of player. Right now, he would fit everything the current NBA is looking for.

It was all for naught though. The Kings didn’t develop Stauskas like they should have though. While a front office should never be completely (100%) blamed for failing to develop a player, a large majority of the blame does go on that front office. After only one (!!!) season, the Kings gave up on Stauskas and he was subsequently traded to the 76ers during the following offseason (’15-’16).

Stauskas was never given the proper chance to prove himself in Sacramento. But who are we kidding? Even IF Stauskas had been given the proper chance, he probably still wouldn’t have succeeded.

As I mentioned, the Kings have a downright TERRIBLE reputation of developing their draft picks. If we look back at the Sacramento Kings draft picks from 2013-2020, the Sacramento Kings draft picks were: Ben McLemore, Ray McCallum, Stauskas, Willie Cauley-Stein, Isaiah Cousins, Marquese Chriss (traded to the Suns), De’Aaron Fox, Zach Collins (traded to the Trail Blazers), Frank Mason, Gary Trent (traded to the Trail Blazers), Marvin Bagley, Justin James, Ignas Brazdeikis (traded to the Knicks), Vanja Marinkovic, Tyrese Haliburton, Xavier Tillman (traded to the Grizzlies), Jahmi’us Ramsey, and Kenyon Martin Jr. (traded to the Rockets).

Out of all of those names, I can count maybe two or three that are actually receiving minutes in the NBA right now (Fox, Haliburton, Bagley), while all of the others either flamed out very quickly and aren’t in the NBA anymore, are in the NBA but don’t play much at all, or are subpar to okay rotation players on their respective teams. Not one of these draft picks became an all-star for the Kings, and, out of eight drafts, the Kings had lottery picks in seven of them, so no, that’s not going to cut it.

All this is to say that if Franz Wagner goes to the Kings, it just feels like deja vu all over again for us Michigan fans. I truly believe Stauskas just needed to be put in the right situation for him to succeed.

Lottery picks have to be instant impacts almost right away (at least in the eyes of fans and the media) and because Stauskas needed time to acclimate (which he wasn’t given) his play suffered for it, and the clock had already started ticking. Even if Stauskas never became an all-star caliber player, he still could have been a solid 3-and-D player and he might still be in the NBA right now, earning himself some more contracts.

I don’t want to see an NBA player with so much upside and potential like Franz waste his talents and reputation with a team that will keep being back-of-the-pack in the NBA.

Wagner has a much higher upside than his brother Moe Wagner. Franz is a unicorn in the sense that he can do everything well on the court.

He may not ever be a guy that is elite in a lot of areas or even a few, but he plays his hardest at all times and does everything well. He can shoot the three-ball, he can make plays for others as a facilitator, he rebounds the ball well, he can switch onto smaller guards and defend (and honestly can guard 1-4, if not 1-5), he is long and lean, and he is a great free-throw shooter. What more can an NBA team want?

My hope is for Franz to get drafted by a team like the Golden State Warriors or even the Orlando Magic, but at the end of the day, Franz goes where he goes. We as U-M fans just have to buckle up and see where Franz ends up on draft day.