Similar to his rookie of the season, Franz Wagner wasted no time in making an impact in Central Florida.
Less than 24 hours after returning to Orlando from Germany, Wagner was on Thursday night helping the NBA’s Best Shot and Orlando Magic opened the renovated basketball courts at Candyland Park in Longwood.
It was a thought-provoking moment while training with the kids on the new courts after spending much of the offseason in his home country.
“It’s just cool for me,” said Wagner, who used the start of this week to spend time with his family in Germany before returning to Orlando. “It’s a big part of everybody’s dream to try something on the outdoor courts. It’s kind of like Candyland. We didn’t have anything like that in Germany. The children will have a lot of fun.”
Wagner has spent the last two months with the German men’s basketball team playing in friendlies, World Cup 2023 qualifiers and EuroBasket 2022, a tournament in which Germany won the bronze medal after defeating Poland on Sunday at the Mercedes-Benz Arena in Berlin.
It was Wagner’s first time playing for the senior national team after playing for Germany’s youth team.
He stood out for the German team at EuroBasket, averaging 15.2 points (53.1% shooting — 58.2% from the field and 46.3% on threes), 4 rebounds and 1.7 assists.
Germany won four of their five group stage games to qualify for the 16-team knockout stage, where they lost to Spain in the semi-finals before beating Poland for third place.
“It’s just going to help me grow a little bit,” Wagner said. “We played a lot of tough games. Lots of big games and games where every possession counts. That mindset should help me next year and hopefully I can help the team with that. All in all, just having another year behind us will make some things easier.”
Wagner, the No. 8 pick in last year’s draft, is coming off an elite rookie season that he looks to continue.
He averaged 15.2 points, 4.5 rebounds and 2.9 assists in 30.7 minutes (79 starts in 79 games), finished fourth place in Rookie of the Year voting which was awarded to Toronto Raptors forward Scotty Barnes and was included in the first team of rookies.
Wagner has gotten noticeably stronger and it’s been clear that he’s worked on his outside shooting during the offseason, points that are important to him heading into the summer.
“It’s important to pick up one or two things in the offseason,” he said. “For me before the offseason, it was about getting my body stronger, developing a little bit more and working on my hitting. It is also important to use what you are working on during training and [use] it’s in game situations.
“I want to keep improving as a player. The dribbling, the shooting — honestly, everything a team needs. I just want to be an impact player on the team. Whatever that means.’
The Magic begin training camp Tuesday at their home new state-of-the-art AdventHealth training center.