What Christian Wood gives the Houston Rockets on the court
Christian Wood’s tenure in Houston has been wildly productive. Over 76 games, he has averaged 19.1 points and 10 rebounds per game on 49.7% shooting and 35.8% 3-point shooting.
Centers that are league-average 3-point shooters that can also finish in the paint are invaluable to a spread pick-and-roll scheme. As an offensive contributor, Wood has excelled as a Rocket.
Unfortunately, his defense and rebounding production lags behind most of his peers. On the surface, 10 rebounds per game suggests that Wood is, in fact, a good rebounder. However, when one digs a little deeper, it’s clearly not a strength.
Wood’s offensive rebounding percentage of 6.7% is 27th out of all qualified centers. Offensive boards are the most valuable rebounds, and while not a complete zero on the offensive glass, Wood doesn’t distinguish himself either.
Of all the statistics that make their way into the box score, defensive rebounds are the least descriptive. 77% of all missed shots are secured as rebounds. Who grabs the ball and gets credited with the rebound isn’t always reflective of who did the most work.
Contested rebounds are a better proxy for determining who are the best rebounders. Wood’s 3.9 contested rebounds per game is 22nd in the league for players who have played in 15 plus games and average over 15 minutes a contest. Among that same sample, his 37.5% contested rebounding percentage is 78th in the league. Wood isn’t necessarily a bad rebounder for a center, but he definitely doesn’t give the Rockets anything extra.
On defense, Wood is a bit of an enigma. He’s not particularly switchable on the perimeter and he is not a great rim protector, but he has held opponents to 43.7% on shots that he has contested. That mark is 1.9% lower, meaning better, than expected. This season the Rockets' defensive rating has hardly budged when he’s on the court (115.4) compared to when he is off (115.6).
Wood clearly isn’t an elite defensive center, but he’s also not awful. Wood is an excellent offensive center that gives away some of those gains on the boards and defense, but in the aggregate is an above-average player.