In June of this year, the Christian Wood era officially ended for the Houston Rockets. Wood was traded to the Dallas Mavericks for the 26th pick in the 2022 NBA draft and four players; Sterling Brown, Boban Marjanovic, Trey Burke, and Marquese Chriss.
Wood’s run in Houston was statistically productive, he averaged 19.1 points and 9.9 rebounds per game over two seasons, but the results on the court were pitiful as the Rockets won a combined total of 37 games.
Ending the Christian Wood era was a necessary step for the franchise. With his departure, the Rockets’ young core will be put to the test as they try and lead the franchise back to the playoffs.
While the headliner of the Rockets’ Christian Wood trade was the 26th overall pick in the 2022 NBA draft, which would be flipped for the 29th pick, TyTy Washington Jr. was selected, and two second-round picks, the four veterans the Rockets received have varying value. Brown is a solid floor spacer, Burke is a savvy veteran point guard, and Chriss is an NBA body, but Boban Marjanovic is the most intriguing of the quartet.
The Legend of Boban
Boban Marjanovic is something of a cult legend in the NBA community. His enormous size allows him to dunk without jumping, and his unique facial features and comedic timing have given him a second career as an actor.
Boban is so much more than just a basketball player, he’s a personality, and for a young team looking to find itself, he’s the perfect veteran to hold the locker room together. These are the three reasons the Rockets need to keep Boban Marjanovic.
Reason #3 the Rockets need to keep Boban Marjanovic: Can’t teach size
In a very reductive sense, basketball is a game of size. Simply being tall gives you an outsized advantage when the object of the game is suspended ten feet in the air. Standing 7’3, Boban is one of the tallest players in the league and he knows how to use it.
Over his career, 47% of his shots have come three feet or closer to the rim, and he has converted 75.6% of those shots. Boban knows where he excels, he gets there, and he seals the deal.
The Rockets, outside of Boban, are a small team. Their next tallest player is Jabari Smith Jr. at 6’10, and their two young centers (Alperen Sengun and Usman Garuba) are both listed at 6’9. The Rockets need some size, and Boban provides it better than just about anyone else.
Reason #2 the Rockets need to keep Boban Marjanovic: He’s a low-maintenance, high-efficiency player
Nothing is worse than when a veteran joins a rebuilding team and demands minutes and touches. Is said NBA journeyman-X better than lottery rookie-Y at that exact moment? Most of the time, the answer is yes, but does it make sense for a rebuilding team to run their offense through a player that has peaked or a player capable of one day being great?
Boban is the exact opposite type of veteran. He hardly ever plays, his career-high minutes per game is 11.7, and he still does it with a smile. However, Boban isn’t some scrub when he’s out there.
On a per-minute basis, Boban is a monster. For his career, his per-36 minutes' averages are; 23 points, 15 rebounds, and 1.3 blocks on 57.4% shooting. Getting eight to ten minutes a night at that rate from a third-string center is great, and it shows up on the scoreboard. With Boban on the floor, his teams have outscored their opponents by +4.5 points per 100 possessions.
Reason #1 the Rockets need to keep Boban Marjanovic: He’s a locker room king
The single best reason the Rockets need to keep Boban around is that he is a fantastic locker room presence. There are 15 NBA roster spots, but only around ten guys get to play with any consistency. The five guys at the back of the bench need to elevate the team in other ways, and Boban is a master at that.
Boban is a 34-year-old Serbian man, and already Tari Eason, a 21-year-old from Washington state, loves the guy. Luka Doncic loves Boban. Tobias Harris loves Boban. Jake from State Farm loves Boban. The only guy that doesn’t love Boban is John Wick, and I’m fairly confident Keanu Reeves, the actor who portrays John Wick, loves Boban.
We’ve already heard rumblings that Christian Wood believes he’s the second-best player on the Dallas Mavericks and wants to be treated as such. Boban knows he’s a deep bench player, and he is able to put his ego aside and make the people around him smile. The Rockets are going to do a lot of losing this season. Having an uplifting veteran voice will help keep the team together and improve the performances on the court.
Vibes matter and Boban is the vibes king. He’s an infectious positive personality that every team needs. Often we forget that these guys are people. Every team needs a people person, and Boban is that man. The Rockets need all 7’3 of Boban’s vibes.