Rockets

Wood Should Have Had His Shot With Team USA

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With the 2021 Tokyo Olympics underway, the United States’ Men’s Basketball team seeks its 16th gold medal in 19 tries.

When Kevin Love opted out (still recovering from a calf injury), the team selected JaVale McGee as his replacement. While McGee boasts a bevy of veteran experience, it seemed like an odd choice.

Although this year’s rendition of Team USA is nowhere as talented as previous Olympic teams, they are still far more talented than the rest of the world. An abundance of talent on one team doesn’t always bode well for success, though, mainly due to lack of chemistry and familiarity with each other.

The team’s direction seems to be headed for younger players with numerous stars opting out. McGee helps with being a lob-threat and protecting the rim, but he is still somewhat of a liability offensively.

This is where a key Houston Rocket could have came into play.

Wood Would Help

At just 25 years old, Christian Wood had his best season as a pro and could have garnered an all-star spot had he not been injured. He figured to be a part of the Most Improved Player candidacy, but was effectively eliminated from contention after only competing in 41 games.

Still, his numbers were tremendous.

He posted a staggering 21.0 points (51.4% FG, 37.4% 3PT), 9.6 rebounds and 1.2 blocks in 32.3 minutes per game this season. With Team USA, Wood would not have only provided size and length to protect the rim, but versatility to spread the floor and roll to the rim, finishing at a high level.

Offense

Wood is a fantastic pick-and-roll partner. Because he is a dual threat, he keeps the defense honest wherever he is on the floor. A big part of his game is being a lob threat coupled with his athleticism, length and height.

Throughout this video, he shows his versatility by putting the ball on the floor to get to the rim. He also moves without the ball to open spaces to be available for lobs, as James Harden threw him several.

Defense

Wood has the potential to be a tremendous defender. He must put in additional work to obtain this prowess, but he has glimpsed initial levels of effectiveness as a rim protector.

This tape is from the 2019-2020 season with the Detroit Pistons, so he didn’t have as many responsibilities as he did this past season. Nevertheless Wood can compare to a version of Anthony Davis, which here helps establish proper position to dominate defensively. Wood’s role on this team would help exert more energy on that end without having to play-make as much, thanks to the tremendous talent surrounding him.

USA Still Strong, But Wood Deserved His Shot

Team USA is virtually always the more talented team in every Olympics, as the most of the best players live here. While prominent, that can also be a curse with the abundance of egos and selfish play, especially against less-talented teams who utilize spectacular ball movement.

At 25 years old, however, Christian Wood is a young star entering his prime. His selflessness and willingness to adapt and play in a multitude of ways could have boded well for this team while fitting in nicely with the squad’s general transition to younger star talent.

This USA team may be much less talented than other previous squads, but they’re still good enough to go for gold. They’ll look to avoid previous failure like in 1972 (silver), 1988 (bronze) and 2004 (bronze).

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