The Rockets are a rebuilding team that is not off to an ideal start. They are 1-6 to begin the year, they have had one of the toughest schedules of any team this year, and it doesn't get easier anytime soon.
It's not all bad news, Jalen Green has shown flashes of why Rockets fans were so excited when he was drafted number two overall. Kevin Porter Jr. has struggled with turnovers but also had spectacular plays and improved on defense. Alperen Sengun has continued his excellent play from the preseason. However, Christian Wood has been the Rocket's best player so far, yet most attention has gone to his poor free-throw shooting.
Christian Wood has been more than the Rockets could hope for so far
Since coming to Houston during free agency last year, Wood has been the Rockets’ best player. He was on track to being an All-Star last year before a significant ankle injury derailed his season. Wood averaged over 20 points and nearly 10 rebounds despite the injury, while shooting 37 percent from three-point range. Another major component, at least when it comes to the Rockets’ salary flexibility, is that Wood is on a team-friendly deal, especially considering his level of play.
This year, Wood has continued his great play, averaging 20.1 points, 12.1 rebounds, and shooting 39 percent deep. That is on 41 attempts through seven games, which is better than players like Kevin Durant, Steph Curry, and Duncan Robinson, who are all considered knockdown shooters. Wood is also top five in rebounding this year and averaging only 1.6 turnovers a game despite handling the ball on fast breaks.
Wood showed everyone that he is one of the best forwards in the league in his last game. He played Anthony Davis to a standstill, putting up 26 points and 16 rebounds in the Rockets’ two-point loss to the Lakers.
Even though it's not a huge difference from the previous years, Wood is averaging 2 assist a game, which would be a career-high. There was a lot of talk (and still is, by the way) about trading Wood because he doesn't fit the timeline and will be looking for a max contract in a few years. Yes, there are parts of his game he needs to improve on. His free throw shooting is the worst of his career at only 51.5, which could become a bigger problem as the season goes on. Wood also has to continue to improve on the defensive end, specifically his help defense, considering the Rockets are still a small team.
Even with the minor flaws in Wood game, it is undeniable that so far this year, Wood is the Rockets' best player, just like he was last year. Wood's combination of size, speed, and shooting is not something Rockets fans should take for granted. Even at his... umm “advanced” age of 26, Wood is the type of player any team needs to win, even a rebuilding team like the Houston Rockets.