After the Dallas Mavericks traded for Christian Wood in the offseason, pundits praised the organization for providing Luka Doncic arguably the most offensively gifted big man he has ever been teammates with. However, 16 games into the season, the 27-year-old's role on the team has not been clearly established yet.
In the Mavs' loss to the Denver Nuggets on Sunday, Wood played a season-low 17 minutes, which he sounded off after the game.
Dallas gave up a lot to acquire Wood from the Houston Rockets. The trade package included four potential rotation players and the draft rights to a 2022 first-round pick. Considering how much the Mavs dealt away, one would think that the University of Nevada, Las Vegas product would assume a heavy-usage role for his new team.
In addition, Wood had displayed his potential to be a 20-10 player in the past two seasons, averaging 19.1 points and 9.9 rebounds.
However, the Mavs' coaching staff has opted to use the 6-foot-9 big man off the bench. Although he has performed solidly so far, recording averages of 16.6 points and 7.5 rebounds per contest through 13 matches, Wood has never been on the court for more than 30.5 minutes in any of those games.
It wouldn't be surprising if Wood were playing badly and putting up empty numbers. On the contrary, he has been an efficient shooter, connecting on 57.3% of his field goal attempts and 43.2% of his 3-pointers.
Moreover, the team has been better offensively and defensively when Wood is on the court.
If the Mavs were atop the Western Conference standings, it's conceivable that Wood wouldn't be expressing his frustration for his lack of playing time and a clear role.
But the squad is just 9-7 and ranks in the middle of the West. Losses to a few teams that were missing some of their top players have contributed to Dallas' mediocre record.
The loss on Sunday came against a Nuggets group that was missing three of its best players, Nikola Jokic, Jamal Murray, and Aaron Gordon.
Clearly, something has to change for the Mavs. Their team stats show they need help scoring inside the 3-point line and the rebounding department. Incidentally, those are some of Wood's strengths. Maybe Jason Kidd and his staff should consider giving the power forward/center more playing time and putting him on the floor in crunch time.