Christian Wood is smiling now, but his story was very different 5 years ago in June 2015. As a 19-year-old, Wood went undrafted, but worse was to come.
In the wake of signing a 3-year, $41 million contract with the Houston Rockets, Wood has shot to relevance. He’s repaying the attention with some great offense. Wood is giving them the spacing they haven’t had from a big man since Hakeem. It’s early in the season, but he is proving to be a real difference-maker.
While Wood has some catching up to do on the defensive end, he has the tools to be a plus defender. Although he may never truly become a very good defender, his athleticism, rebounding and ability to switch onto the perimeter will be valuable.
Wood’s presence means Harden is already playing with the best offensive big man he’s ever lined up with. Alongside John Wall, the duo could be the recipe for a playoff run.
Christian Wood recounts his draft night experience
Wood expected to be picked late in the first round or, at worst, in the second round in 2015. That never happened as every team passed on him twice. His despair that night reached a crescendo when he was dumped by his girlfriend:
“I lost my girlfriend that night, too. I dropped her off at the airport after the draft and never saw her again.”
— New York Post Sports (@nypostsports) December 30, 2020
Wood returned, disappointed, to his family who were waiting for him to celebrate in Caesar’s Palace. He signed with the Rockets’ summer league team, before Philly picked him up in the worst season of their Process era. Cut even from that 10-72 team, Wood made his way to China to play in the CBA.
After bouncing around and playing limited minutes for the Hornets, Pelicans and Bucks, Wood eked out a role with the Pistons last season. Wood averaged 13.1 points and 6.3 rebounds in 62 games for Detroit. He looks set to average close to a 20-point double-double this year.