Prior to the 2020-21 season, Houston Rockets big man Christian Wood had been a bit of a journey man, as he had stints with the New Orleans Pelicans, Milwaukee Bucks, Charlotte Hornets, Philadelphia 76ers, and Detroit Pistons. Although Wood struggled to find a permanent landing spot, he became one of the most coveted free agents on the market last offseason, in part because of how well he played after the Pistons traded Andre Drummond at the trade deadline in 2020.
Wood averaged 22.4 points, 9.8 rebounds, and 1.1 blocks, while shooting 56 percent from the floor and 39 percent from 3-point range following the Drummond trade to the Cleveland Cavaliers, showing the league what he could do as a full-time starter. Wood’s play earned him a three-year deal worth $41 million with the Rockets, and he backed it up with his play during his first season in the Space City.
Houston Rockets big man Christian Wood gets criticized for midseason comments
In 41 games with the Rockets this past season, Wood averaged 21 points, 9.6 rebounds, 1.7 assists, and 1.2 blocks, while posting shooting splits of 51.4 percent from the floor, 37.4 percent from three, and 59.1 percent true shooting. But in spite of Wood’s borderline All-Star numbers, he couldn’t seem to escape obscurity, as TNT analyst and Hall of Famer Shaquille O’Neal admitted that he had never heard of Wood, prompting Wood to unapologetically call him a casual.
Shaq: "I owe you an apology. I wasn't really familiar with your game."
Christian Wood: "Oh man, you're a casual."
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) January 15, 2021
Wood rode with the same theme when he wasn’t selected as an All-Star, as he posted a tweet with a single word to explain his thoughts on being snubbed.
— Christian Wood (@Chriswood_5) February 24, 2021
On Thursday’s episode of Sirius XM radio’s No Look Pass, host Zach Harper, who also writes for The Athletic, made it known how he felt about Wood’s thoughts on not making the All-Star team.
“He called coaches casuals for not putting him as an All-Star, as an All-Star reserve. What a bunch of casuals.
Those are coaches. Those are coaches that just game-planned you to 20 straight losses as a team. What are you talking about?”
Harper’s comments are a bit off-base, as the Rockets’ losing streak had much to do with the fact that Wood missed 17 of the 20 games that they lost. In addition, the Rockets had a boatload of injuries and lineup adjustments throughout that stretch, so it’s a bit odd to chalk the losing streak up to being outsmarted by opposing coaches.
It also shouldn’t be a surprise that Wood wasn’t happy with the snub, as practically every athlete feels that they should receive All-League honors. Wood possibly would have made the cut were it not for the amount of time he missed due to injuries, especially considering the fact that both Anthony Davis and Devin Booker were both late scratches due to injuries of their own.
Hopefully Wood will be able to stay healthy next season because if so, even the casuals will have a hard time keeping the Houston Rockets big man off of the All-Star team, so long as he plays at the same level that he played at this season.