Former Michigan center Moritz Wagner is moving on up in the projections.
In ESPN’s updated NBA mock draft released Monday (pay site), Wagner has slid into the first round and is slotted to be the No. 29 pick by the Brooklyn Nets.
“The Nets don't have much in the way of shooting in the frontcourt and aren't really committed to any 4s or 5s long term besides promising rookie Jarrett Allen and the dead-weight contract of Timofey Mozgov,” ESPN’s Jonathan Givony writes.
“Wagner brings floor spacing and a high-energy style of play. He was one of the breakout players of March, leading Michigan to a Big Ten title and a surprise run to the NCAA championship game.”
Wagner (6-foot-11, 245 pounds) led Michigan in scoring (15 points) and rebounding (7.3) in the NCAA Tournament. He also finished the season as the team’s leading scorer (14.6 points) and rebounder (7.1) as well as its top 3-point shooter (39.4 percent).
He had been projected by most analysts to be an early-to-mid second-round pick (mid-to-late 40s range) since Michigan’s season ended in the national title game.
Wagner could continue to improve his stock in the NBA Draft Combine this week in Chicago, although he won’t participate in the 5-on-5 games.
Michigan State’s Jaren Jackson Jr. and Miles Bridges, on the other hand, are both holding steady as projected lottery picks in June’s draft.
Jackson (6-11, 242) is predicted to go No. 4 overall to the Atlanta Hawks after averaging 10.9 points and 5.8 rebounds and setting a single-season program record with 106 blocks.
“The Hawks will be in best-player-available mode, but it helps to be able to complement their existing roster with a building block that fits with the surrounding talent,” Givony writes. “The youngest projected first-rounder, Jackson might have the highest ceiling in terms of his ability to affect the game on both ends of the floor. He has enviable physical tools, including a 7-4 wingspan and tremendous mobility.
“Jackson's ability to space the floor (40 percent from 3 and 80 percent from the line), block shots (5.7 per 40 minutes), switch on every screen and, increasingly, put the ball on the floor from the perimeter makes him an ideal fit for the modern NBA.”
Bridges (6-7, 225), who averaged 17.1 points and seven rebounds, is tabbed to be selected just outside the top 10 at No. 11 by the Charlotte Hornets.
“Charlotte continues to search for long-term solutions at both forward positions and will likely look to add athleticism to what has become a fairly disappointing roster,” Givony writes.
“Bridges is a freakish athlete who struggled at times to make the full-time transition to small forward, but he has potential as a two-way wing who can guard all over the floor and give you enough shooting, ballhandling and passing to get by at one of the most important positions in today's NBA.”
Jackson, Bridges and Wagner are also ranked No. 4, 11 and 29, respectively, in ESPN’s updated top 100 draft prospects.