Christian Wood's journey now includes Rockets
Philadelphia 76ers' Al Horford, left, and Detroit Pistons' Christian Wood get tangled up chasing a rebound during the first half of an NBA basketball game, Wednesday, March 11, 2020, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)Credit: Matt Slocum

Life as a professional athlete hadn’t been anything like Christian Wood envisioned.

The first hint of unpredictability came when the talented but still developing 6-foot-10 post player went undrafted out of UNLV in 2015. It would only get rougher as Wood bounced around from team to team in the NBA with G-League assignments in between. Wood was even cut from a league in China a few years ago.

But all of the disappointment and frustration of the last five years all became worth it recently when Wood was signed by the Rockets as a three-year, $41-million free agent. He is understandably conflicted by the journey that has finally put him in a stable place for the first time.

The Rockets are his sixth team in his six-year professional career.

“It’s a journey that I wouldn’t put anybody on,” said Wood, 25. “It’s a journey that I’ve learned a lot from to get to where I am now. I wouldn’t [want] it any other way. It made me who I am now, it made me have this chip on my shoulder, it made me have this determination to try and be better than everybody else I play against on the court.”

Wood has always played with confidence and the belief that he could be the best player on the floor. Finally, he was given that opportunity with the Detroit Pistons around the midway point of last season when the team traded star center Andre Drummond and for the first time in his career, Wood was a full-time starter in the NBA.

Detroit Pistons’ Christian Wood plays during an NBA basketball game against the Philadelphia 76ers, Wednesday, March 11, 2020, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)Credit: AP

Wood didn’t disappoint. In fact, he flourished, averaging 22.3 points and 9.5 rebounds in 34.1 minutes while shooting 56% from the field and 41% from 3-point range in 12 games.

And his timing was everything. As Wood was finally shining, the NBA season abruptly ended due to concerns over COVID-19 and when it restarted in the summer, the Piston’s weren’t invited into the Orlando bubble.

But Wood, who was set to become a free agent, had shown enough that he became a coveted free agent this offseason. The Rockets were in need of a big man after their small ball experiment went all wrong.

Wood gives them a versatile big man who can score inside and can also knock down the 3 when left open in the corner. Should the trade rumors that have both James Harden and Russell Westbrook leaving not come to fruition, Wood could be a great third scoring option in new coach Stephen Silas’ offense.

“I’ve talked to Coach Silas already,” Wood said. “He and I have had a relationship before with me being with the Hornets and he was an assistant coach. He said he is keeping the same five out on offense, and with me and my ability to be able to shoot the ball I think it’s perfect, it’s a great fit. With James opening the pick and roll we can do great things.”

About Wood

  • Position: Center
  • Height: 6-feet-10
  • Age: 25
  • College: UNLV
  • NBA Resume: Has played for 76ers, Hornets, Bucks, Pelicans, Pistons and now the Rockets