Michigan Basketball: Checking in on Franz Wagner’s NBA debut

Former Michigan basketball standout Franz Wagner made his NBA debut last season. We check in on that and other Wolverines in the league. 

The NBA tipped off its season on Tuesday night and on Wednesday, more teams joined the action including the Orlando Magic, who have three former Michigan basketball players on the roster.

One of those players in Franz Wagner, who was a lottery pick in the 2021 NBA draft and in his first career game last night, the former Michigan basketball standout earned the start.

And, at least according to the final numbers, he was one of the best players the Magic had last night in what ended up being an ugly loss to San Antonio 123-97.

Mo Bamba and Wendell Carter were the only Magic player to finish with a positive in terms of plus-minus, while Wagner was next at minus four but he had a solid effort in his first NBA outing, making 6-of-9 shots from the field, grabbing four boards, dishing out two assists, blocking two shots and being credited with one steal.

It was a classic Wagner performance and shows that it’s not going to take the former Wolverine long to find himself in the NBA. He has played professional basketball before in Germany after all. He’s going to be a solid piece, maybe not a superstar, but Magic fans have to like what they’ve seen.

Two other former Michigan basketball players were in action Wednesday for the Magic, including Moritz Wagner — the brother of Franz — who had seven points and six rebounds in 15 minutes. Iggy Brazdeikis also plays for Orlando and got some run but was 1 of 6 from the field in 19 minutes and finished with two points and three boards.

Jordan Poole stands out for Golden State

Many people questioned whether Jordan Poole, another Michigan basketball alum, should have been drafted in the first round by the Golden State Warriors.

He proved those doubters wrong last season and he continued to show his growth in the opener on Tuesday night scoring 20 points in the win over the Lakers.

Klay Thompson still isn’t playing, so Poole got the start and connected on four 3-pointers, including some key makes in the fourth, as well as an 8-of-18 shooting total to score 20 in the win.

Poole might not be a future All-Star in the making, but he’s creating a big role on a playoff-caliber team, just as Duncan Robinson has done with the Miami Heat and that’s pretty cool to see, especially after so many said Poole and Robinson didn’t belong in the NBA.

Robinson will make his season debut tonight for the Heat, while Tim Hardaway Jr. and Trey Burke, who are each back with the Dallas Mavericks, will do the same.