Rockets

Rockets Continue to Struggle Without Wonder Wood

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Prior to suffering an ankle injury, Christian Wood had been building his case to bestow the NBA’s 2021 Most Improved Player honor.

From going undrafted, hopping from team to team, to finally being given the biggest opportunity of his career with the Houston Rockets, he’s now the face of a franchise and has made a tremendous impact on the team so far.

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How it All Started

The 6’10” PF/C with a 7’3” wingspan went undrafted in 2015 out of UNLV. He’s been quite the journeyman, playing in just 72 games from 2015-19 for four teams (76ers, Hornets, Bucks, Pelicans). In eight games with the Pelicans, he flashed productive-player potential, averaging 16.9 points, 7.9 rebounds and 1.3 blocks in just 23.6 minutes per game.

He only started two of those games. He was then waived and picked up by the Detroit Pistons, his first legitimate opportunity.

With the Pistons, Wood averaged 13.1 points (56.7% FG, 38.6% 3PT), 6.3 rebounds and just under a block across 21.4 minutes per contest. His biggest opportunity came once Andre Drummond was traded to the Cavaliers.

The Wood-era Pistons only lasted 13 games, but his stats took off. During this stretch, he averaged 22.8 points, 9.9 rebounds, and 1.0 block on 56.2% shooting overall, while stepping out and hitting 40% from beyond the arc. One of his largest contributions was his offensive rebounding at 3.2 per game, which put him top seven in the league. Many teams didn’t take notice of his skillset and production, but this still garnered him a lucrative contract with the Rockets.

Welcome to Houston

Houston has had a huge turnaround since unloading Russell Westbrook and James Harden. The Rockets inked Wood to a three-year, $41 million contract.

Enter the Wood-era Rockets.

Wood has made his presence felt, making improvements across the board. He’s posting 22.0 points, 10.2 rebounds, and 1.5 blocks on 55.8% shooting from the field and 42.1% from deep.

His field-goal percentage has taken a slight dip compared to last season, but it’s still impressive considering he’s taking double the amount of shots per game (8.2 to 15.7).

What’s most impressive is the way he spaces the floor. He’s shooting a career-high 42.1% from deep and taking just under double the amount of threes compared to last season (2.3 to 4.5). His impact on this team is glaring and being just 25 years old, he has a bright future.

Wood’s Impact

The Rockets have been struggling mightily lately without Wood, losing their last eight games. They’ve been losing by an average of over 15 points per contest.

Before this brutal streak, the team looked like they were in rhythm, winning 7-of-8 before Wood reinjured his ankle. Since he went down, the Rockets’ offensive and defensive ratings have plummeted along with their success from deep.

Rim protection, spacing, rebounding and scoring threat Wood provides is essential to team success. Before being sidelined, he was shooting 61% from beyond the arc in the five games he played during the successful eight-game stretch. He’s quickly establishing himself as one of the better centers in the league.

Christian Wood has proved doubters wrong. Going undrafted, it’s a dog-eat-dog world to obtain a roster spot on an NBA team, establish yourself, and garner a lucrative contract to prove you are one of the best players in the game. In his first legitimate opportunity with a franchise, he’s shown his all-star potential and has much more time to prove his worth and talent.

The Rockets couldn’t be more ecstatic to obtain the steal of free agency and should remain optimistic about C-Wood in an H-Town jersey for years to come.

Follow us on Twitter @RocketsLead for the latest Rockets news and insight. 

About Corey Randall

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