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Christian Wood: Who is the Mavs new big man and what can he bring to the team?

From UNLV to multiple NBA teams to now North Texas, Christian Wood has had a unique path that has led him to the Dallas Mavericks.

DALLAS — Before the NBA Finals were able to finish, the Dallas Mavericks got a jump start on the team's offseason by acquiring Houston Rockets big man Christian Wood.

The Mavs traded this year's first-round draft pick and four players to the Rockets for 26-year-old center. This was first reported by the Athletic's Shams Charania.

According to the report, Dallas is sending Boban Marjonovic, Sterling Brown, Trey Burke and Marquese Chriss to Houston, along with the No. 26 overall pick in next week's NBA Draft.

While Wood has shown flashes of being a dominant frontcourt player while in Houston, he's had a unique and winding path that has led him to the Mavs.

Starting on the west coast

Christian Wood was born in Long Beach, California on Sept. 27, 1995. While he started his high school basketball career in California, he eventually transferred to Findlay Prep in Nevada right before his final high school season.

Wood played ay UNLV from 2013 to 2015, earning first team All-Mountain West honors during his second year with the program. In his final season, he averaged 15.7 points, 10 rebounds and 1.3 assists per game in 33 games played.

In April 2015, Wood declared for the 2015 NBA Draft.

Bouncing around the league

It took a while for Wood to find stability in his NBA career. After going undrafted in the 2015 NBA Draft, Wood joined the Rockets for the 2015 NBA Summer League, a team that would later trade for him.

While Wood played for many summer league teams throughout the first part of his career and also had a couple of stints in the NBA G League, he only played in 51 games for four NBA teams from the 2015-16 season through the 2018-19 season. Those teams included the Philadelphia 76ers, Charlotte Hornets, Milwaukee Bucks and New Orleans Pelicans.

In August 2017, Wood signed a contract with the Fujian Sturgeons of the Chinese Basketball Association. He never ended up playing a game with the team before coming back to play for the 76ers' G League affiliate team.

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Breaking out in Detroit and Houston

Wood started to get more national recognition when he was claimed off waivers by the Detroit Pistons in the summer of 2019. The 6-foot-11-inch big man averaged 13.1 points and 6.3 rebounds per game on 56.7% shooting during 62 games with the Pistons.

The very next season, Wood was signed-and-traded to the Rockets. In his very first game with his new team in December 2020, the versatile big man had 31 points, 13 rebounds, three assists and one block in a 128-126 loss to the Portland Trail Blazers.

While in Houston from 2020 to 2022, Wood knocked down 38% of his 3-pointers on five attempts per game. During these two regular seasons, there were only six NBA players to average 19 points and 9 rebounds per game on 50% shooting from the field:

  • Giannis Antetekounmpo
  • Joel Embiid
  • Nikola Jokic
  • Karl Anthony-Towns
  • Domantas Sabonis
  • Christian Wood

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Strengths and weaknesses

Wood will bring the Mavs a unique skill set as he is able to roll to the rim for lobs from Luka Doncic, but he also spaces the floor. Whether it be a pick-and-roll or pick-and-pop, working with Doncic will give the Mavs' new big man the chance to become even more efficient from the field offensively.

Wood has struggled on the defensive side of the court during his career, whether it comes from his effort or his strength against bigger centers. There have also been issues that have arisen from time to time related to his attitude.

In January 2022, the Rockets suspended Wood for one game without pay because of "poor behavior."

However, Wood has never had a legitimate role in a winning atmosphere yet. He will likely become the Mavs starting center, supported by a coaching staff that drastically improved the team's defense last season.

Wood is also in the last year of his three-year, $41-million contract, meaning he will likely be motivated and playing for his next contract while in Dallas.

If the Mavs get an engaged, defensive player in Wood ready to build a two-man game with Doncic, this is a somewhat risky but winning move made by a franchise looking to make another deep playoff run in the upcoming NBA season.

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