Christian Wood has been traded to the Dallas Mavericks, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic. In return for Wood, Dallas is sending the Houston Rockets Boban Marjanovic, Sterling Brown, Trey Burke, Marquese Chriss, and the 26th overall pick in the 2022 NBA Draft.
At first glance, this trade looks like a major win for the Mavericks. This past season Wood averaged 17.9 points, 10.1 rebounds, 2.3 assists, and a block per game in 68 total games. Wood also shot 50 percent from the field and 39 percent from three. In short, Wood is an offensive powerhouse as a big man and will only elevate the Mavericks’ offense.
With this being said, it’s noted that Wood has his flaws on the defensive end. Sometimes it comes down to a lack of effort, and at other times he seems to get overpowered by opposing big men. Whether this is a physical flaw in his game or a product of his environment in Houston will be seen this coming season.
Wood is certainly a starter on this Mavericks team. Unless other major changes are made, and assuming Jalen Brunson re-signs, then Wood will replace Dwight Powell in the starting five. This gives Dallas a starting lineup of Luka Doncic, Brunson, Reggie Bullock, Dorian Finney-Smith, and Wood. Clearly, there’s a lot to like here. The center position sees an upgrade. Additionally, Wood will thrive in an offense with Doncic.
Going back to the defensive aspect, there’s work to be done. This year’s playoffs showed the Mavericks’ potential but also showed the need for a defensive enforcer at the center position. Jason Kidd completely changed the Mavericks’ defense this past season compared to what it was like under Rick Carlisle. His coaching philosophies won’t change, so Kidd has a real shot at helping Wood improve on that end of the floor.
This is a pure rebuilding move for the Rockets. Next year is the last year on Wood’s contract, so the Rockets could have kept him and simply earn cap space next summer after letting his contract expire. Instead of doing that, they decided to collect an asset.
The word asset is singular because the players that arrived in the deal won’t be in the Rockets’ future plans. Marjanovic is an NBA fan favorite but is aging. Brown was sparingly used in Dallas, although he did well in his original stint with the Rockets. Burke is another veteran, perhaps one who can help mentor the young Houston guards, but he likely won’t emerge as a game-changer. Chriss is another depth piece, but the Rockets are focusing on developing other young big men such as Alperen Sengun.
The real prize for the Rockets here is the 26th overall pick. This pick comes towards the end of the first round, but it’s still likely that a team will find a rotational piece at worst here. Houston likes what they’ve done recently in terms of scouting young talent, so this asset will be used wisely.