When the Houston Rockets signed Christian Wood last offseason for three years and $41 million they landed one of the best bargains in recent history. Rookie contracts aside, a player of Wood’s quality, a near 20 points and 10 rebounds a game, is not available for $13 million a season.
It is often forgotten, but the Rockets were a .500 team last season before Christian Wood sprained his ankle. With Wood out the Rockets embarked on a 20 game losing streak. By the time he came back and regained his footing, the season was already over.
In year two in Houston, Wood is averaging 19.8 points and 11.2 rebounds on 46.2-percent 3-point shooting. He, once again, is building a legitament All-Star case. Unfortunately, the Rockets, once again, are building a legitimate case for the number one overall pick.
Christian Wood is in the prime of his career and the Rockets are in year one of a rebuild. It’s reasonable to ask, does Christian Wood have the stomach for a rebuild?
The Houston Rockets season could be a slog for Christian Wood
The Rockets are 1-4 with their lone win coming against the similarly woeful Oklahoma City Thunder. In fact, that one win is obscuring how poor the team has actually been. Their -7.2 point differential per game would be -17.25 without their 33 point victory against the Thunder. Simply put, the Rockets aren’t going to be anywhere close to the playoffs.
Christian Wood is 26-years-old, a borderline All-Star, and never tasted winning at the NBA level. The Rockets were right to identify his talent and give him a long runway to showcase it, but they run the risk of crushing his spirits as he slogs through yet another season of losing.
Wood has been a good soldier, but part of that was proving he belonged in the NBA. He has proven that, and now he’s entering the phase of his career where he’s going to want to prove that he can be a part of winning. For as great as his statistics have been, one can easily say, “But does it lead to wins?”
Does Wood have the stomach to keep fighting game after game in a season where the team has no desire to win? Will Wood risk injury knowing it’ll be for nothing? These aren’t questions about Wood’s character, they’re simply about human nature.
Wood played with James Harden and John Wall last season. He knows what All-NBA and Championship caliber players are capable of. At some point, the Rockets may have to do right by Wood. Unless Christian Wood has the stomach for a rebuild, they may have to entertain moving him to greener pastures.