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by: Kris Gardner, United States Basketball Writers Association member. Credentialed media member since 1997. USBWA approved online journalist. Voter of Lowe's Senior CLASS, Naismith, USBWA, and Wooden awards.
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What are the Rockets getting in Christian Wood?
Posted: November 21, 2020 -- 12:43 p.m. CT
During Stephen Silas' introductory Houston Rockts' press conference, Silas, the Rockets' new head coach mentioned, "You have to have multiple ways of playing. So, Small Ball can be part of it. But, also possibly having a bigger guy. A traditional-type center where you can roll to the rim or duck in or do different things to where the matchups will be a little bit better and more traditional."
Hello, Christian Wood.
Once the deal is finalized, Christian Wood,, 6'10", listed weight is 214 pounds (probably weighs more), will be a Houston Rocket via a sign-and-trade with the Detroit Pistons. The signing is a 3-year, $41 million deal.
Wood averaged 21.4 minutes per game last season and shot 38.6% from 3 and 56.7% overall from the floor. For the year, Wood averaged 13.1 points, 6.3 rebounds, 1.0 assist, 0.9 blocks, and 0.5 steals per game. His per 36 numbers look like this: 22.0 points, 10.6 rebounds, 1.6 assists, 1.5 blocks, and 0.9 steals per game.
Now, let's look at his numbers in the 13 games after Detroit traded big man Andre Drummond to the Cleveland Cavaliers:
Wood averaged 22.8 points per game after the trade on 56% (109 fgs / 194 fga) shooting including 40% from three (22 for 55). Wood scored a career-high 32 points in 39 minutes (14/18 fgs, 3/4 threes) versus the Philadelphia 76ers on March 11. Wood also averaged 9.8 rebounds per game in that stretch.
The Pistons won once in those 13 games.
In the 13 games after the Drummond trade, Wood started 11 times. The other starters included Bruce Brown (5 times); Sekou Doumbouya (2); John Henson (7); Reggie Jackson (4); Brandon Knight (3); Thon Maker (7); Svi Mykailiuk (9); Derrick Rose (5); and Tony Snell (13).
Those lineups are not exactly starting lineups filled with good players; however, Wood is efficient and not just a player who jacks up a lot of shots to get his points.
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Therefore, why will the Rockets be Wood's 6th NBA team in 4 seasons (Philly, 2015-2016; Charlotte, 2016; Milwaukee, 2018-2019; New Orleans, 2019; Detroit, 2019-2020)?
Wood, 25-years old, has not been consistently focused on the court. He had too many mental lapses on defense; failed to get back on defense in transition; etc. In the Pistons' training camp, Wood beat out Iso-Joe (Joe Johnson) to make the Pistons' final roster spot. Early in the 2019-'20 season, he was fifth (out of 5) in the Pistons' frontcourt rotation. Blake Griffin's season-ending knee surgery plus Wood's steady improvement increased Wood's minutes on the floor.
Christian Wood has more in his offensive bag than former Rockets' big man Clint Capela. Wood is a better ball handler; better perimeter shooter; and, overall, Wood has a more diversified game on offense giving Stephen Silas and his coaching staff a lot to work with and maximize for the Rockets.
On a medical note, Wood was the third NBA player to test positive for COVID-19. Wood tested positive March 15. Not quite 2 weeks later, Wood was the first NBA player to be cleared from coronavirus after testing positive.
In Wood, the Rockets get a talented, 25-year old 6'10" big man. Wood is probably better suited at the 5 spot (center) on offense and the 4 spot (power forward) on defense. A consistently-focused Christian Wood is a solid NBA player. It's up to him to build on this past season's success.
Now, the Rockets' organization has to decide how long it wants to be "uncomfortable" with James Harden and Russell Westbrook.
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