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Why the Charlotte Hornets should be locked in on signing Christian Wood in free agency

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A familiar face in free agency for the Charlotte Hornets.

Measurements:

Height: 6’10’’
Weight: 214 lbs
Wingspan: 7’-3’’

2019 Stats:

13.1 PPG

6.3 RPG

Christian Wood is a player that the Charlotte Hornets are very familiar with from his lone 2016 season where he was only active for a minimal 13 games. Wood has come a long way since his brief stint with Charlotte, from un-drafted to five different teams in his four seasons in the NBA, Wood has battled to keep himself in the league. That battle may have paid off for the 25-year-old after his breakout 2019 campaign, where he showed off a ton of potential. In his lone season with the Pistons Wood averaged an impressive 56% FG percentage to go along with his much improved three-point shot: Wood shot a career-high 39% from the 3-point line showing his rare ability to stretch the floor. In his 12 starts for the Detroit Pistons, Christian Wood averaged 21.9 ppg, 9.4 RPG, and a ridiculous 65% TS.

OFFENSE

Aside from scoring the most impressive trait that Wood displayed in his 2019 campaign offensively was his handle. Wood at 6’10 has shown the ability to pick the ball up from the half-court and take bigger and slower opponents off the dribble and drive towards the rim for some easy scores. Wood reminds me a lot of Miami’s center Bam Adebayo in that regard because of how his play-style can sometimes mirror that of a guard. In a league that is becoming more and more catered towards smaller lineups having a big on the floor that can do some similar things as a guard is valuable and makes it easier on the head coach and his rotations when you are forced to play small.

Christian Wood is not a scared player, he attacks the rim and invites contact. Wood has transformed himself into a consistent roll man in pick and roll action. Wood is very crafty with his picks, Wood sets screens like a stonewall then sometimes catches defenders over pursuing with a softer pick which allows him to slip past his primary defender as he’s rolling wide open. Wood under the rim has really figured it out as he uses his size to finish plays at the rim Wood as already established himself as one the most reliable roll man finishers in the NBA per Synergy Wood is ranking in the 96th percentile in PnR Efficiency in the entire NBA.

The edge that has really rounded out Christian Wood’s game is his transformation into a knockdown shooter from the three-point line. Wood has absolutely punished NBA defenders with his shooting ability, as the 2nd half of the season went along we saw teams start to adjust and closeout on Wood’s three-point shooting, Wood did fairly well to counter the magnified attention he gained adding some pump fakes to his game and relying on his improved dribbling to get past defenders once he catches them off balance trying to contest his shot. Wood became a fan favorite for Pistons fans as he started earning the title “Unicorn” based on the versatility he displayed in his game post-January.

DEFENSE

Christian Wood has made strides as a defender earlier in the season just was not cutting it. He was dropping too deep into a drop coverage and almost trying to catch player, as they were driving towards the rim and opponents, took advantage of that either pulling up for a mid-range jumper from the free-throw line or throwing up an uncontested floater. This was one of the reasons that Pistons head coach Dwayne Casey completely pulled him from the starting lineup earlier in the season. When given the opportunity, after working his way back into the starting lineup Wood showed improved footwork and instincts, you saw less of him falling for pump fakes as much as he used to earlier in the season, and more control, and discipline in his defense when guarding in isolation. Combine Wood’s nimbleness and his added discipline and you have a switchable player that can at the least hold his own with all five positions.

Wood has also improved his Pick and Roll defense as he has tweaked a few things such as not dropping too far away from the ball handler while at the same time not completely allowing the roll man to get behind him. Wood is not an elite defender and that is not what this is about it is about showing a player that has improved and shown the willingness to become at the very least a solid defender. A player that has shown an upward trajectory in their progression is a player coaches want to coach and worth taking a chance on.

Christian Wood is only 25 years old, his age correlates with the window and timeline that the Hornets are on and has shown in his 2019 season that he has an immense potential worth investing. Wood would be a seamless addition to P. J. Washington and Miles Bridges in the Hornets front-court. Wood would also fill the void of playmaking that the Charlotte Hornets have been missing from the center position in a while. The Charlotte Hornets are estimated to have $19-22M in cap space this offseason why not take a chance on a player that fills a need and has legitimate upside ahead of him.