As has been the tradition for the past few years, the Los Angeles Lakers surprised many with their late first-round selection in the 2018 NBA Draft. LA drafted Michigan’s Moritz Wagner, a big man whose shooting ability makes him a potential pick-and-pop threat with Lonzo Ball and Brandon Ingram.
It’s that shooting ability that has Lakers head coach Luke Walton excited about Wagner’s addition to the team. But beyond his basketball skills, Walton also praised Wagner’s intangibles after learning he was the Lakers’ first-round selection (via the Lakers, h/t Harrison Faigen of Silver Screen and Roll):
“We like his energy, we like his skill set, his intelligence. We like the fact that he played for a really good coach. We feel like he’s going to be able to come in right away and help our team. We’re building a culture here and he brings a lot to the table as far as the passion he plays with, his unselfish nature and the way that he sprints the floor. All those things that we’ve seen on film and that we saw live a couple of times when he worked out for us. We’re really excited that he was on the board still when we had our pick.
“His shooting. He can stretch the floor for us. His competitive nature. These are all things we put a lot of value on when we’re evaluating these players. It’s not just skill, we want size. We want intelligence, we want shooting. He checks a lot of those boxes.”
Walton also gave some insight on the interview process and what the Lakers saw out of Wagner:
“It was great! He’s always got this big smile on his face. He’s got a way of being honest and talking about people and things but keeping the room light. I don’t think he had to convince Rob much. The Michigan thing was pretty strong, but he impressed all of us. From his interview in Chicago, which is hard to do, to sit down in front of a bunch of guys you don’t know and have the room electric the way he did. So that was impressive, and then the two workouts here were just great. He was competing, trash talking, coaching from the floor. His passing ability, there’s a lot he brings to the table that we can use.”
It appears as though Wagner might be the prototypical Lakers pick: a shooter with the agility to compete defensively and a seemingly high-character player.
Lakers fans may not know much about Wagner, yet, but Walton’s excitement over the selection should make them hopeful.