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Pro Blue Hoops Reset: Franz Wagner is a star

With the NBA season well underway, let’s take stock on how several former Wolverines are playing.

Orlando Magic v Brooklyn Nets Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images

If you’re a Detroit Pistons fan in addition to be a Michigan football fan, you may be blissfully unaware the NBA season started more than a month ago. November never happened; surely the Pistons are still sitting at 2-1, right?

If you have been paying attention, the NBA is off to a roaring start. A large handful of former Wolverines have found their way onto NBA rosters. Let’s take a peak at how each are performing so far this season.

Franz Wagner, F, Orlando Magic

20.7 PPG, 5.8 RPG, 3.5 APG in 20 games

Wagner is officially a star for the suddenly good Orlando Magic. Sitting at 14-6, the Magic lead their division with Wagner as their leading scorer. He is having a career year in scoring, rebounding, blocks and steals. He scored 30+ points in three straight games from Nov. 26 through Dec. 1. He should be an All-Star.

Tim Hardaway Jr., G, Dallas Mavericks

16.8 PPG, 3.4 RPG, 1.6 APG in 17 games

The 11-year veteran has been coming off the bench for the Mavericks this season, but is still getting 27 minutes per game and is one of only three players scoring in double figures (along with Luka Doncic and Kyrie Irving). He’s been working through a back injury of late but should be back to full health this week. Dallas is a very guard-heavy team, but Hardaway figures to play an important role all season long as the sixth man.

Duncan Robinson, F, Miami Heat

14.7 PPG, 2.6 RPG, 2.7 APG in 18 games

Robinson had been coming off the bench prior to Tyler Herro’s injury. In Herro’s absence, Robinson has started 10 of the Heat’s 18 games. To date, Robinson is scoring at a higher clip than he has his entire career, thanks to career-highs in shooting percentage both from the field (49 percent) and from three (44.7 percent). He continues to not play much of a factor in any other facet of the game, but Miami doesn’t necessarily ask him to do so.

Jordan Poole, G, Washington Wizards

16.3 PPG, 2.6 RPG, 3.3 APG in 19 games

Poole was traded to the Wizards in the offseason and is now an unquestioned starter, as he no longer has to play behind Steph Curry and Klay Thompson. Unfortunately, the results have been pretty hit or miss. His scoring has declined slightly as his shooting percentages and efficiency has decreased tremendously. He is still Washington’s second-leading scorer and will be afforded time to grow into his new role though.

Caris LeVert, G, Cleveland Cavaliers

13.7 PPG, 3.7 RPG, 3.6 APG in 16 games

Similar to last year, LeVert is the first man off the bench in Cleveland. However, a knee injury kept him out of two games in mid-November and he hasn’t been the same since returning. He has been shooting poorly but is making his impact felt in other ways. His usage this season should be interesting to monitor.

Moritz Wagner, C, Orlando Magic

13.0 PPG, 4.3 RPG, 1.2 APG in 20 games

Similar to his brother, Wagner is having a career year with the Magic. As of now he has career highs in scoring and shooting percentages. Moe is an astounding 63.3 percent from the field while scoring 13.0 PPG off the bench in just 19.5 minutes per game. Don’t be surprised to see Wagner claim a starting role in the near future.

Isaiah Livers, F, Detroit Pistons

7.0 PPG, 2.3 RPG, 1.2 APG in 6 games

Livers missed most of the first month of the season with an ankle injury. Since returning, his role has fluctuated wildly, as he’s been a healthy scratch a few times while also starting another contest. Monty Williams is still trying to figure his roster out in Detroit, so the time is now for Livers to claim a role on the team.

Moussa Diabate, F, Los Angeles Clippers

3.0 PPG, 2.1 RPG, 0.4 APG in 9 games

After bouncing back and forth between the NBA and the G-League last year, it appears to be more of the same this season for Diabate. He’s appeared in nine games this year primarily in mop-up duty, though he did nearly pick up a double-double against Dallas in early November when he scored 11 points and collected nine rebounds. He has appeared in a few Ontario Clippers games as well.

Caleb Houstan, F, Orlando Magic

3.0 PPG, 1.1 RPG, 0.4 APG in 12 games

Houstan has remained with the Orlando Magic for the duration of the season so far without any G-League stints. He’s been a part of the rotation on an off-and-on basis. He has essentially been used as just a spot-up shooter, though he is shooting 52.4 percent from the field and 50 percent from three.

Jett Howard, G, Orlando Magic

0.4 PPG, 0.4 RPG, 0.4 APG in 5 games

Howard started the season in Orlando but couldn’t crack the rotation. He never played more than seven minutes in his first five appearances. The Magic assigned him to the Osceola Magic in the G-League (f.k.a. Lakeland Magic) where he scored 34 points in his debut.

Kobe Bufkin, G, Atlanta Hawks

0.5 PPG, 1.0 RPG, 0.0 APG in 2 games

Bufkin appeared in two games at the start of the season in mop-up duty. He recorded his first (and currently only) NBA point by hitting a free throw on Oct. 29. After two games, he was designated to the College Park Skyhawks in the G-League, where he then fractured his left thumb in practice. He was expected to miss 8-10 weeks as of three weeks ago, so he should return in the new year.

Others

-Zavier Simpson joined the Detroit Pistons for the 2023 NBA Summer League, but was unable to make the roster. He is currently playing for the Motor City Cruise in the G-League.

-D.J. Wilson signed with the Orlando Magic this offseason but was waived. He now plays for the Osceola Magic in the G-League.

-Colin Castleton was signed on a two-way contract with the Los Angeles Lakers. He has appeared in three games for the Lakers and scored six points.