Christian Wood was one of the most sought-after free agents going into last year's off-season. The 6’10” big man ultimately chose the Houston Rockets, which turned out to be a team-friendly deal.
Wood had no way of knowing that he would become the go-to guy considering he was set to join Russell Westbrook and James Harden. We all know the rest, and after Harden got his wish and was traded to the Brooklyn Nets, Wood had to step into more of a leadership role.
The first few weeks after the Harden trade, Wood played at an All-Star level, and the Rockets were winners of seven out of eight games. Then the injury bug began to bite the Rockets, something it would do all season. Wood suffered a significant ankle injury against the Memphis Grizzlies and only played in 41 games last year.
Despite this, Wood still had a good season averaging 21 points and 9.6 rebounds while shooting over 37 percent from beyond the arc.
Going into this year, Wood has an established role as one of the team's veterans ( even at the young age of 26). However, Wood struggled early in the preseason with his shot and didn't seem comfortable in the offense. This, of course, can be attributed to playing with Kevin Porter Jr., who is playing his first full year at the point guard position, and Jalen Green, who is playing in his first year in the NBA. Both players are talented and have a great future ahead, but building chemistry on the court takes time.
Wood has looked a lot better the last two preseason games, especially the final preseason game where he started with Alperen Sengun. Sengun started for Daniel Theis and continued to show why he will be one of the best rookies in the league this year. Sengun makes the game easier for everyone on the court, especially Christian Wood.
Wood had his best game so far this year, finishing with 19 points and 18 rebounds. Even though the Rockets lost their third straight game, they looked a lot better on both sides of the ball. Wood will have to improve his free throw shooting, which has been a negative since joining the Rockets and has only gotten worse.
Even with the bad free-throw shooting, Wood is poised for a big year. Anyone who averages 20 and 10 and still shoots 37 percent from the three-point range and is only 26 is a player everyone should watch.
The Rocket may not win many games, but if Wood can stay healthy, he will show everyone why he would have been an All-Star last year if not for injuries.