While it’s hardly uncommon for a franchise to speak highly of a draft pick any given year, the Los Angeles Lakers were particularly bullish on Moritz Wagner, who was taken with the 25th pick in the 2018 NBA Draft.
Lakers president of basketball operations Magic Johnson and general manager Rob Pelinka raved about Wagner’s competitive spirit, skill set and ability to stretch the floor as a big man. They said those sentiments were shared by Josh Hart and Kyle Kuzma after they watched Kuzma’s pre-draft workout.
A rookie season was grounded before it could get going, however, as Wagner sustained a left knee contusion during Las Vegas Summer League. It limited Wagner in offseason workouts and training camp, and the Lakers ruled him out for the entire preseason.
After a steady build up in practice, he was active for the first time this season on Halloween but did not play against the Dallas Mavericks. It wasn’t until Saturday that Wagner made his NBA debut, entering in the final minutes of a loss to the Orlando Magic.
Wagner deemed himself healthy after his debut and said the focus is on re-gaining confidence, as seen on Spectrum SportsNet:
“I mean, I’m 100 percent, otherwise I wouldn’t be out there. Kind of getting the swag back. Otherwise, yeah, I’m good.”
Wagner missed his lone field goal attempt — a 3-pointer — in his two minutes of action. While his debut with the Lakers was a limited opportunity, Wagner has filled a larger role with the team’s G League affiliate.
He’s started two games for South Bay, averaging 27 minutes, 16.5 points, 4.0 rebounds, 1.0 assists and 1.5 3-pointers made on 5.5 attempts.