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Michigan Wolverines basketball now has five NBA Draft hopefuls in 2021, after freshman center Hunter Dickinson decided this week to declare early and test the waters. Others include forward Isaiah Livers, guards Chaundee Brown and Mike Smith, and, of course, wing Franz Wagner, who has the best chance of any to be drafted, almost guaranteed to hear his name called in the first round.

Wagner has been projected anywhere between No. 7 overall to No. 22, with his stock having skyrocketed over the last year, following a sophomore campaign in which he earned a second-team All-Big Ten nod and helped lead the Maize and Blue to a regular-season Big Ten title and NCAA Tournament Elite Eight appearance.

He averaged 12.5 points, 6.5 rebounds and 3.0 assists per game last season, while shooting 47.7 percent from the field and 34.3 percent from long range. At 6-foot-9 — and possibly even taller — the long and rangy Wagner is also known for playing high-level defense.

Several mock drafts have been updated in the last week since the conclusion of the NBA regular season and play-in games, with the projected draft order (which won’t be official until the lottery on June 22) becoming more and more clear.

Below, we’ve rounded up some recent projections on Wagner, where he’s slated to be picked and why.

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Michigan Wolverines basketball sophomore wing Franz Wagner is the second in his family (brother Moe) to declare early for the NBA Draft out of U-M.
Michigan Wolverines basketball sophomore wing Franz Wagner is the second in his family (brother Moe) to declare early for the NBA Draft out of U-M. (USA TODAY Sports Images)

• Bleacher Report analyst Jonathan Wasserman has been bullish on Wagner from the jump, though he does have the German going No. 10 to the Sacramento Kings now, as opposed to No. 7 to the Golden State Warriors a few weeks back.

The fact that Wagner can play multiple positions and is perfect for the ‘positionless basketball’ trend in the NBA, along with his defensive prowess, makes him an intriguing option for Sacramento.

“Set in the backcourt after adding Tyrese Haliburton to join De’Aaron Fox, the Sacramento Kings could target Franz Wagner for his versatility from either forward spot,” Wasserman wrote.

“At 6-9, he’s shown he can slash or make plays as a pick-and-roll ball-handler, catch-and-shoot from three and defend multiple positions.

“Still 19 years old, Wagner ranked No. 3 in the nation in defensive plus-minus, and the Kings ranked last in the NBA in defensive efficiency.”

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• CBS Sports’ Garry Parrish released his latest update May 27, and has Wagner going No. 13 overall to the Indiana Pacers. Wagner’s name has been tied to the organization for some time now, with several mock drafts having pegged him to end up there. The Pacers have backcourt talent in Malcolm Brogdon and former Michigan star Caris LeVert, and a force on the inside in Domantas Sabonis, but they’re looking to make some additions on the wing.

“The Pacers need to add depth on the wing, which makes Franz Wagner an obvious option,” Parrish wrote. “His three-point shot must improve for him to meet expectations, but the fact that he shot 83.3 percent from the free-throw line this past season at Michigan suggests he’s capable of being an above-average perimeter shooter in time.”

• Yahoo Sports’ Krysten Peek has Wagner just outside of the lottery, going No. 16 to the Boston Celtics.

• NBC Sports’ James Ham has a similar projecting, listing Wagner as the No. 17 pick to the Memphis Grizzlies, who are making some noise in the postseason, currently tied 1-1 with No. 1-seeded Utah in the first round.

The Grizzlies are the youngest playoff team since the Oklahoma City Thunder in 2010-11, already outdoing expectations while leaning on a youthful nucleus that includes guard Ja Morant. Like the Pacers, though, they’re looking for more depth on the wing.

“The thing this team needs most is just a fast-forward button,” Ham wrote. “A year or two down the road, the Grizzlies are going to be a contender, especially if they can get [forward] Jaren Jackson Jr. healthy. They already have 14 players under contract for next season. Memphis, like every team, could use more shooters and maybe a long-term solution at the three.”

That’s where Wagner would come in, Ham explained.

“Wagner can score, rebound and he’s developing as a secondary distributor,” he wrote. “He has a quick release and a clean stroke from long range, although his numbers don’t jump off the page. A high basketball IQ player, Wagner moves well without the ball and isn’t afraid to take the big shot. He has good size for an NBA wing, although he is an average athlete at best.

“The Grizzlies have plenty of super athletes on their roster. They could use a multi-positional player that can shoot, pass and fit into their system. Wagner can stretch the floor and he brings plenty more to the table.”

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