One name still available on the NBA free agent market is big man Christian Wood. Wood has played for seven teams and been in the league for seven seasons. He’s a player that’s been on the move and hasn't found a consistent fit.
Without a big market after him, Wood is likely to sign a one-year prove-it minimum contract. It’s not imperative that the New York Knicks go after him but it’s worth briefly discussing what he could add.
Scoring-Expanding the floor:
If there’s one thing Christian Wood can do, it’s put the ball in the basket. The last three seasons have seen him average 21.0, 17.9, and 16.6 points per game. This has been on pretty decent percentages as well, with his field goal rate over 50 percent in the last three seasons. Wood had a career-high in usage in 2022-23 and raised his true shooting percentage from 59.5 in 2021-22 to 62.4.
He does it with his inside-out game that can be very tough to defend on a night he’s rolling. Last season saw him average nearly eight points in the paint per game. This was down from the 8.8 he averaged in 2021-22 and the 11.3 in 2020-21 in 41 games with the Houston Rockets. I look back on that sample of the Rockets' year as it was only two seasons ago and think of how he could bolster New York’s inside presence. The Knicks ranked 15th in points in the paint per game last season.
Outside of All-Star forward Julius Randle, the Knicks didn't get much production scoring from their big men. Mitchell Robinson averaged 7.4 points in 58 games and Isaiah Hartenstein came in at 5.0 points in 82 games.
Christian Wood also offers the ability to shoot from the outside, an element of the game that tanked the Knicks in the playoffs. Going back to the 2019-20 season, Wood has shot at least 37 percent or better from three. The last two seasons he has made over 100 three-pointers. Adding another big on the floor that has the ability to stretch the floor is something so valuable in today's NBA. It would take pressure off Randle, Jalen Brunson, RJ Barrett, and the other Knicks. There have been too many times in the past few seasons that the Knicks are playing five-on-four on offense and things can get stale and predictable pretty quickly.
It’s worth noting that six foot nine stretch forward had a career-high 115.4 offensive rating last season playing for the Dallas Mavericks.
If I’m going to point out the offensive rating, I have to be fair and say he had an unimpressive 116.7 defensive rating. I don’t think that number is as bad as it sounds and Wood had a career-high +2.1 in defensive win shares last season. The rebounding numbers were pretty good as well, averaging 7.3 rebounds per game. This is an area he can help contribute in as I’m sure coach Tom Thibodeau will continue to stress the importance of crashing the glass. In the last three seasons, he has also averaged a block per game. Wood has a good defensive frame and if he is motivated, that defensive rating number should improve.
Christian Wood is not a perfect player by any means, but he brings a lot to the table. For a minimum contract, the Knicks should be looking to see how much juice they can get from the motivated free agent.
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