College basketball expert Jay Bilas sat down with the media yesterday to field questions about the NBA Draft and the prospects expected to be picked. Former Michigan stand outs Franz Wagner and Isaiah Livers came up and Bilas had great things to say about both.
Bilas views Wagner as one of the more intriguing prospects in the draft because of what he's able to do on both ends of the floor at 6-10, but really likes what Wagner can do on defense.
"Wagner is interesting," Bilas said. "He's been rising up sort of in the minds of some as a prospect because he's got positional size and he's a long-armed, athletic wing that can guard a lot of different people and guard them successfully.
"He didn't just -- it's not sort of just his assignment. He's a really good off-ball defender. He'll get steals and blocks and deflections and all that stuff, but he's an excellent team defender. You watch him on film, and he's in the right spots all the time. He plays the ball very effectively."
Bilas also likes him on offense but does see room for growth.
"And then he's, I think, a good offensive player that is evolving into a really good offensive player," Bilas explained. "I think he should be a better shooter. Like he's got good shooting form, but his numbers don't equate to that form in my view. I think he should be better, and I think he can be better. But he's such a good cutter.
"I know you watched a lot of him, but the way he cuts to the basket, and then he's able to actually become a driver off of his cuts, which is a little bit unusual, but I really like the way he plays and the way he moves without the ball. He's a good -- I think he can become a better corner shooter, a better floor spacer, but that's something he's going to have to continue to work on."
Finally, Bilas touched on where Wagner might be picked and how that position has changed over the last year.
"A lot of people are talking about him as like a top 10 pick, and I didn't see that earlier in the year with him. I saw him as a first-round pick, but I didn't see him as sort of that high, but a really, really good prospect, and I think he's going to be taken -- sounds like he's going to be taken in the lottery," Bilas said.
Livers isn't quite as intriguing as Wagner, and is obviously coming off the injury, but he's got some ready-made NBA skills that could give him staying power in the association even if he's not drafted.
"I see him as kind of a sharp-shooting forward," Bilas said. "He's always struck me as an elite offensive player that he shoots over 40 percent from three, and that puts him in a high category among shot makers.
"I think he's a pretty good defender that's worked hard at it to get better. It wasn't a strength of his early on in his career, but he's gotten better and gotten tougher. But I think he's more of an offensive talent rather than -- I think early on, I can't remember if it was you or somebody else asked about Franz Wagner. I think his value, while he's a good offensive player, his value is more as a versatile defender, and I say Isaiah more as a -- his value is more as an offensive player."