The Los Angeles Lakers had just one pick in the first round of 2018 NBA Draft, and with it selected Michigan big man Moritz Wagner. He brings with him energy and perhaps more importantly, an ability to space the floor.
Wagner participated in two pre-draft workouts with the Lakers. He not only caught the eye of president of basketball operations Magic Johnson and general manager Rob Pelinka, but Josh Hart and Kyle Kuzma as well.
“Kyle Kuzma and Josh Hart were actually at Moe Wagner’s workout, and both of them were elbowing Earvin and I, saying, ‘Man, this guy would be fun to play with. He plays with energy, he’s light on his feet,'” Pelinka said after the Draft concluded.
“They were both texting me after we picked him, saying, ‘That’s another great culture piece for us.’”
In addition to working out Wagner, the Lakers met with him at the NBA Draft Combine in Chicago. It was there that his personality first captivated the front office. “You guys are going to love Moe Wagner because he literally lights up a room when he walks into it,” Pelinka said.
“Magic talked about players on other teams, and I can’t say names, but they just have that quality of galvanizing the five guys playing and have a spirit and charisma. You can have swagger and if you push it too far it turns into arrogance.
“But if you have the perfect feel with how confident you are, it spreads to the rest of the team. Moe Wagner just has that. When he came in and did his 3-on-3, the whole workout changed just because of his spirit and energy.”
As for the fact that Pelinka and Wagner both attended the University of Michigan, the Lakers GM knows that will be held over him. “I will forever be accused of having a Michigan Wolverine bias,” Pelinka joked.
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