Houston Rockets: How talented is Christian Wood?
The wedge between the trade and keep Christian Wood camps is largely driven by differing opinions of his talent level. The keep Wood crowd believes he is an All-Star with upside, while the trade Wood crowd thinks he’s a good player with a limited role on a contender.
Let’s start with what Wood is good at. Wood is an above-average 3-point shooter and a good finisher at the rim. Simply put, he’s a fantastic center for teams that feature the pick-and-roll heavily. He can pick-and-pop and pick-and-roll with the best of them, and he forces defenses to pick their poison.
However, outside of those two skills, Wood has no above-average skills. He’s a poor passer, he cannot consistently generate his own offense, and his rebounding and defending are average at best. His deficiencies don’t make him a scrub, but they do indicate that he is nowhere near a superstar.
It should be noted that Wood has been excellent in isolation possessions this season. He’s averaging 1.43 points per isolation possession, but that comes with a serious caveat. He’s only attempting 2.1 isolation possessions per game and last season he averaged 0.78 points per isolation at a similar volume. It’s highly unlikely that Wood has become twice as good in isolation, but if he maintains strong numbers as the season wears on then his value should trend up with it.
Wood is good at scoring in the two most effective areas of the court, but those are the only plus skills he has. If he’s set up, he’s going to score points and do it at an efficiency that makes him look like an All-Star. How talented is Wood? He’s on a level right below an All-Star. He’s one of the top-75 players in the league, probably top-50, but he’s nowhere near the top-30.
Wood is a player that makes a difference for a good team but isn’t the difference. That’s super valuable when you’re chasing a championship, but it should temper some expectations over what the Rockets can realistically land for him.