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Moritz Wagner provided Magic with frontcourt depth, passion for the game

Orlando Sentinel logoOrlando Sentinel 6/16/2021 Roy Parry, Orlando Sentinel

This is the 17th in a series of 17 player capsules from the Orlando Magic’s 2020-21 season. For the rest, go to OrlandoSentinel.com/magic:

Moritz Wagner, forward/center

Games: 11. Games started: 10.

Per-game averages: 11.0 points, 4.9 rebounds, 1.1 assists, 0.4 steals, 0.8 blocks, 1.2 turnovers, 26.0 minutes.

Shooting: 40.9% FG, 37.2% 3FG, 87.9% FT

Contract status: The Magic signed Wagner for the remainder of the season on April 27. He is set to become an unrestricted free agent.

Top game: May 1 vs. Grizzlies — 24 points (8-for-15 shooting, 4-for-6 on 3s), 5 rebounds, 2 blocks, 0 turnovers, 18.0 Game Score

The buzz: The Magic signed Wagner on April 27 after he was waived by the Celtics to add frontcourt depth, and the transaction proved to be a fortuitous one. Wagner almost immediately moved into the starting power forward spot — even though center is his natural position — after Chuma Okeke sprained his ankle and was essentially shut down for the season. Wagner’s first start was mostly forgettable as he missed all seven of his field-goal attempts. His next start, however, produced a season-high 24 points as he made 4-of-6 3-point attempts and was 8-for-15 overall.

Wagner went on to start the final nine games of the season. In addition to the starting power forward role, he also gave the Magic some minutes at center as Wendell Carter Jr. and Mo Bamba missed time because of injury and illness.

If you take away Wagner’s first three games, where he was a combined 1-for-11 from the field for seven points, he averaged 12.7 points and shot 41.1% from behind the arc as he showed a decent flare game in pick-and-roll sets.

Perhaps that eight-game sample size is a better reflection of what Wagner can do with more minutes. Overall, he shot a career-best 37.2% from behind the arc with Orlando. That was third best among the players who appeared in at least eight games for the Magic from April 27 to May 16.

Wagner set career highs for 3-point field goals (1.5) and 3-point attempts (3.9) per game with the Magic.

Wagner also played with a degree of feistiness and wasn’t afraid to mix it up with opponents. It was easy to see Wagner’s passion for the game and his teammates.

The future: Wagner’s fit with the team could hinge on his versatility. He’s an experienced NBA player with a good motor and some offensive skill. The Magic do not have a third-string center signed for next season. Plus, Wagner could give the Magic further depth at power forward, which could prove valuable if Jonathan Isaac’s return from his ACL injury is delayed. Still, it would be hard to see Wagner getting the same playing time (26 minutes per game) he got over his 11 games with the Magic on a more regular basis. It’s likely Wagner will be looking for a more prominent role with his next team.

This article first appeared on OrlandoSentinel.com. Email Roy Parry at rparry@orlandosentinel.com. Follow on Twitter @osroyparry

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