Christian Wood entered the 2021-22 season as the Houston Rockets' defacto best player. Being the best player on any NBA team is quite an accomplishment in the grand scheme of things, but being the best player on the worst team in the league doesn’t say much about your standing in the overall player hierarchy.
Wood is an enigma. He’s a good player that doesn’t feel like he adds all that much to winning. For a center, he’s an above-average offensive contributor, but his subpar defense prevents him from being a true foundational piece. At the end of the day, Christian Wood is a valuable NBA player, but his talents would be much better used by a team ready to compete now.
The 2021-22 season saw Christian Wood be thrust into the unenviable situation of being the best player on a bad team. It went well statistically, but the team once again finished with the worst record in the league. This is his season in review.
The Good Stats Bad Team Paradox
Christian Wood’s basic box score stats are impressive. He averaged 17.9 points and 10.1 rebounds a game on 57% shooting on 2-pointers and 39% shooting on threes. On offense, he blended fantastic efficiency with decent volume while chipping in with enough rebounds to average a double-double.
Putting up good numbers on a bad team has almost become taboo. Sure, the box score says you’re good, but because your team isn’t winning it must mean those numbers are a farce. In some respects, that’s true of Christian Wood.
On a better team, his points per game and rebounds would likely drop, but it would also come with improved efficiency. What would people think of Wood if the Rockets won 45 games and he averaged 14 points and 8 rebounds a game on 60% shooting on twos and 40% on threes?
The problem Wood faces is largely of perception. He knows what he is as a player, a play finisher. However, to help the Rockets win he needs to expand his game out of his comfort zone, and he simply hasn’t.