Scouting & Video: Moritz Wagner at NBBL Top 4

Dylan Burkhardt

Moritz Wagner’s ALBA Berlin team suffered a double-digit defeat in the NBBL Top 4 semifinal to Bayern Munich on Saturday afternoon.

Berlin, the defending champions of the German U19 league, were outclassed by Bayern Munich and fell into a big hole early. Munich’s pressure defense befuddled ALBA’s guards, who committed a rash of turnovers throughout and struggled to even get the ball across half court at times.

Wagner was never able to find a rhythm after picking up a couple ticky tack fouls on the perimeter by over aggressively hedging pick and rolls. As a result, Munich led by double-digits throughout most of the matchup despite a late run by ALBA to cut the lead to six in the closing seconds.

Wagner played limited minutes and his team was dominated on the night, which made it somewhat more difficult to evaluate him. Nobody is going to grade out very well in one of their worst individual and team performances of the season. For Wagner, who averaged 16.6 points, five rebounds, two assists and two steals per game, it was a disappointing night all around.

He played just 22 minutes and was 1 of 5 from the floor, finishing with 9 points and six rebounds in the loss. Here are some thoughts on Wagner’s abilities after watching him in a full game action. I also cut together a few clips from– with sound added because the audio was out of sync (and in German) — which can provide a taste of Wagner’s game.


The first thing that stands out when watching Wagner play is his motor. John Beilein would certainly label him an ‘energy giver’ as he was sprinting around in warmups, encouraging teammates during the game and standing up cheering on the bench — even after picking up two early fouls. He showed great hustle chasing after loose balls and was very active defensively. He also wasn’t afraid to chop it up with a Bayern Munich player after a tussle for a loose ball.

Most of his offense on Saturday came on second chances around the rim. Wagner crashed the glass aggressively throughout the game, but seemed to reach a new level of intensity in the second half. He battled for loose balls and was able to come up with a putback or a trip to the free throw line.

He also showed off the ability to get out in transition and push the ball. He grabbed one rebound around the free throw line and took the ball coast-to-coast, drawing a foul in the process. In the halfcourt offense, he’s capable of attacking the hoop with the straightline drive, but over penetrated himself into a few problems like tough shots and an offensive foul.

He battled for low post position on several possessions, but his guards never did him the favor of passing him the ball on the block. The majority of his offensive touches came in the pick-and-pop where he would usually try to drive past his recovering defender.


Simply put, Wagner needs to get a lot stronger to make an impact in the frontcourt in the Big Ten. Wagner was pushed aside on at least two different occasions trying to box out his man on a missed free throw. It wasn’t for lack of effort, but he just couldn’t move people to secure the free throw misses — a task that won’t be any easier in the Big Ten.

As previously mentioned, Wagner picked up a number of cheap fouls trying to hedge against smaller guards and not moving his feet well enough. That’s not to say he doesn’t have the quickness to do that, but he’ll need to be more disciplined in that regard.

He didn’t show off much of his jumpshot — his two three-point attempts were desperation attempts late in the clock — so it’s hard to judge how his stroke will fit in at the next level. It’s certainly a part of his game, but not nearly as much as some people have guessed. Just 19% of his field goal attempts this season were threes and he made 32% of them (international line).  So while he may be a capable jump shooter, he’s much more comfortable slashing and driving off the pick and pop.


Wagner fits at the four position in Michigan’s offense and he should be able to bring some different things to the table than the other options. He has legitimate size and length and he’s also the most aggressive straight-line slasher of the bunch. His handle and shot will probably have to be tightened up before he can make a serious impact — and he’ll have to add significant weight — but it’s easy to see why John Beilein would be excited about a 6-foot-9 forward that plays hard and attacks the basket.

There’s been a lot of talk about someone potentially needing to slide over to the five position, but after watching him play I can’t quite see that for Wagner — at least not anytime soon. DJ Wilson, while also skinny, still seems like the most likely candidate to make that shift. Wagner looks like a big wing in Michigan’s offense through and through.

That’s also a very crowded position in the Michigan offense with Zak Irvin, Aubrey Dawkins, Kameron Chatman and DJ Wilson all factoring into the equation. There’s a lot to love about Wagner’s length, hustle and ability to drive to the basket, but it also wouldn’t be a surprise to see him need to add significant weight for a year before he’s ready to be a contributor.

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  • JJ3ball

    thanks for scouting the game and the write up.
    M definitely can afford to RS Wagner, but if he goes the Caris route and forces himself into the lineup that’s cool too. Wagner will have a more difficult path to PT than Caris faced as a freshman.
    I would like to watch him match up with Doyle in practice! A couple of aggressive guys going at it. Doyle would throw Wagner around for a while, but I think Wagner would welcome the challenge.

    • MChem83

      Barring a catastrophic string of injuries, we can certainly afford to use him carefully this year, and will probably never need to play him in prime time, but I’d be against redshirting him in any case. Let him get whatever real game experience he can, even if it’s just a few minutes at the end of amount of practice makes up for that. If he gets pushed around a little, does it really matter? Far better to get that experience than to waste a whole year riding the bench.

      • JJ3ball

        I see your point, but M is so deep, and Wagner is so in need of S&C, he might benefit from a RS. He can always get pushed around his RS Freshman season :)

        • jake

          I agree, he definitely needs to red shirt! I would be shocked if he didn’t. We already have a 10 man rotation with only 1 of those guys a freshman (dj wilson) if I’m not mistaken

      • Nick

        I could not agree more. People forget how long the season is. Players can make huge strides Nov – March

  • bobohle

    I’ve asked this before. Has Wagner signed his letter of intent? Rivals says no. Has he been yet cleared by the NCAA? Does anyone know for sure?

    • He hasn’t been announced yet (they can’t announce him til they have an LOI) and as far as I know he hasn’t passed/taken the TOEFL yet.

      • bobohle

        I hope its not another Robin Benzing case. Thanks for the reply Dylan.

  • geoffclarke

    6’9″, wearing #13, aggressive style of play? Nickname: großer Hund.

  • umgoblue525

    That video was some really awful basketball, missed layups, air ball 3 ptrs, circus shots, ouch!

  • W3

    He will be fine. Love the motor. He is a freshman and very skilled. He has time to add the weight

  • EchoWhiskey

    Redshirt ahoy!

  • bobohle

    Not on the subject: According to the Nik Stauskas tweet Spike had his left hip done last Wednesday. Hope the recovery goes well. Still plans to be back in Sept.

  • P-nickel

    His letter of intent has to be in by May 20th.

    • If he wants to sign an LOI then he has to sign it by May 20. But he doesn’t necessarily have to sign an LOI.

  • P-nickel

    Right like the LB @ Georgia.

  • Wayman Britt

    Off topic, I wish all the best to Max Bielfeldt and I don’t mind him to go to another Big Ten team. Except why in the world would he want to play for Crean. Can you imagine the contrast in coaching style he would go from – a calm supportive Beilein to a screaming, self serving Crean. If I was counseling Max, I would tell him to become a Cornhusker.

    • Slim33

      Yea seems like a drastic change in coaching. Being a huge Beilein supporter, I’m always curious what former players would say when comparing Beilein to whichever college coach they played for before or after like Horford/Donovan, Smotrycz/Turgeon, Lucas- Perry/S. Miller…

      • Swans

        Your Lucas-Perry comment made me want to exactly remember what his situation was. Found this article and reading through the first few comments about Beilein was quite entertaining. Wonder how much crow those posters have eaten since.

        • zeroskie

          the comments section was an absolutely hilarious read, especially knowing whats to come for the program right around the corner from when that article was published.

          On a semi-related note, I was recently in West Virginia for a week. Walked around with a Michigan shirt. There is very real, violent, hatred for us here because we “took” their BBall coach. Columbus-esque

        • Barth Applefeld

          The comments to the Lucas-Perry article were amazing and a sad reminder of how some people pour their frustrations, anger, and needs into college athletics without much understanding of the game or worrying about the participants. I suppose it’s better than venting those frustrations on the street.

  • Slim33

    Hope everything works out for Wagner and he makes it to UM. Even if he redshirts having a guy with that motor/energy/fire at practice will push the upperclassmen to be even better. Guys that play like that are contagious.

  • RikWaero

    Dylan, I’m a bit surprised that a Michigan-level recruit doesn’t dominate more at Germany’s U19-level. When scouting this, what would you say about the level of competition? Did Munich have any talents that stood out?

  • Anonymous

    Wagner is NOT an NBA level player. Not even close. Glad he is coming to UM. Wagner is as much of an NBA player as Walton is going forward.

    • Who is saying he’s a NBA player?

      • Nick

        I believe his coach said he would be in the NBA in 2 years.

        He looks like more of a project than I thought but eventually he should be pretty good.

      • Anonymous

        See below. I thought I read somewhere a scout said he would be a top 40 draft pick if he came out…maybe his coach. Please.

        • Slim33

          I think a scout said he would be a top 40 recruit in the U.S., not a top 40 draft pick. That would make a little more sense but still may be pushing it.

          • Anonymous

            Thanks. That would be a little more reasonable.

          • Anonymous

            So, exactly what type of player is Wagner? spoke with an NBA scout over the weekend and the scout said Moritz isn’t likely as tall as the 6-foot-10 he’s being listed at, but he is plenty big to play as a college four man. The scout said Wagner has good touch, is clever with the ball and that he competes on both ends of the floor.

            “He’s not a guy that is on our radar as somebody who is going to be a pro right away,” said the scout. “He’s somebody that we see going to college and then we’ll see from there. I’d look at him as a top-20 to top-40 type recruit if he were in the States.”

            Wagner is an edgy type of player. If he adds some strength then he definitely adds value. The above quoted is going over the top but better that what I originally thought I heard.

    • Him Paino

      Wow, it was just one bad game. How can base that he is not a NBA talent off of one video? Let him get here and play in a Michigan uniform first. Some fans will never learn. The kid has one bad game and e,eryone goes, razy and talks about redshirting him before he even gets a, chance to practice..

  • Fan

    Burkhardt, this is embarrassing! All you did was make excuses for the kid. Losers make excuses. Get better!