One man's loss is another man's gain, a corny saying that perfectly applies to Christian Wood's career. Wood was projected to be selected in the second round of the NBA draft five years ago, but nobody picked his name in the end. To make the night worse, it wasn't just NBA teams that passed on Wood that night.
“I lost my girlfriend that night, too. I dropped her off at the airport after the draft and never saw her again.”
Christian Wood, The Sports Rush
Wood got his chance to play in the Summer League for Houston, and then the 76ers spotted him. Even though he played 17 games, he never got a fair chance in Philly. Afterward, he played some games in Charlotte, Milwaukee, and New Orleans, but with no significant role. Then Detroit came knocking. At the start, he wasn't a vital part of the team. Wood got significant minutes after The Pistons traded Andre Drummond to Cleveland and after Blake Griffin got injured. In his last 15 games of the season with the Pistons, he averaged 22 points, ten rebounds, and two assists. Christian was shooting the ball 56% from the field and 41% from deep.
That still wasn't enough for the Pistons' front office to give him a permanent deal. Instead, they've signed another 15 centers that weren't better than Wood. Houston didn't skip on Wood though, the Rockets offered him a three-year, $41-million contract agreement, and considering Wood's numbers till now, you could call that a steal.
In a dysfunctional environment such as the Houston Rockets, Wood became one of the roster's most reliable guys. He currently averages 25 points on 57.1% shooting from the field and 40.0% for three (3.3 attempts per game). On top of that, he records 9.3 rebounds and 2.3 assists per game. Even James Harden said that Wood is one heck of a player.
"Very athletic. Uses his length very well. Can shoot the basketball. Can handle it and make a play. He's very versatile as a big. It's a nightmare matchup for natural centers who are closing out to him or trying to guard him one-on-one."
James Harden, Twitter
Beneath everything else, Wood is a versatile modern-day big man with reliable shooting. He can be a spot-up shooter, but he can also shoot coming from the screens. Wood's good with the ball at his hands too. On the defensive end, he's a good help defender.
For now, Wood is in the limelight, but it's hard to imagine that his numbers would be this high through the season. Even if those numbers fall a little bit, he'll still be in the Most Improved Player conversation at the end of the year.
His talent was never questioined; teams passed because of his off court reports. Sometimes, people just need a bit more time to get their act straight. If Wood manages to stay on the straight and narrow, his best NBA days are yet to come.