2015, draft night, Christian Wood was another college player waiting to hear his name called out in the Draft during a party, confident that at least one team will give him the chance.
He was coming from a great sophomore season in UNLV, averaging 15 points, 10 rebounds and almost 3 blocks. His game was pretty “raw”, but he had the tools to play in the league, which was starving from “long” versatile forwards.
On the other hand, he was really raw and unpolished for the limited patience of most NBA teams. In the draft night, he became viral, as he went undrafted.
As Wood’s head rested on his hands, a photographer from the Las Vegas Review Journal, captured the heartbreaking moment.
His mother, Jeanette Stewart, told USA Today that her son said to her that he was a failure that night. “He said, ‘Mom, I’m sorry, I’m a failure.”
With Stewart trying to light him up by telling Wood to keep his head up high.”You’re not a failure. That doesn’t make you a failure because you went on undrafted.“
“Let me tell you, God works in mysterious ways and has a plan for you. I said what you’re going to do is put your head up high. Put your head up high and wipe away those tears, because from this point you’re going to go forth in your career and you’re going to be OK.”
The season that everything change
Five years later, Christian Wood is something more than OK in his basketball life. He is having a career-year playing for the Detroit Pistons passing most of his time to an NBA court, after playing to G-League the previous 4 years.
In his fifth year in the league, Wood found his place in the league averaging a career-high in every statistical category. After the Pistons hit the “reset button” trading Andre Drummond to the Cavaliers, the young forward took over the court.
He is averaging 23 points, almost 10 rebounds and 2 assists on 34 minutes per game since the All-Star break. The ex-UNLV forward has played 61 games until now with the Pistons, 50 more than his career average.
Making his teammates better
With Blake Griffin out almost from the start of the season, Wood used this opportunity and gradually got in the starting five. The long forward merged well with Derrick Rose whether he was playing power forward or center.
In particular, when they were both in the court, Detroit was outscoring its opponents by +2.9 points per 100 possessions. Even in limited time, as he was coming mostly from the bench in the start of the season, his presence was helping his team to be better on the court.
In the last two months, he scored double-digits in every game until now averaging 25 points and 10 rebounds on 58% shooting in the last four contests. He is shooting 55.9% from the field this season, while getting his threes in 37% clip on 2.2 attempts per game.
Just yesterday, Wood became the third NBA player to test positive for coronavirus, after Rudy Gobert and Donovan Mitchell.
The UNLV alumni scored a career-high 32 points in the last game before the NBA suspension. He will become an unrestricted free agent in the off-season (whenever this it will be) with possibly many team got interest in him.
Wood will see its free agency demand rising, after showing his versatility and two-way capabilities, when the world and the NBA returns to “action”.