Skip to main content

Mavs' Christian Wood Adjusting to ‘Winning Basketball’

After not playing on playoff teams throughout his NBA career, Christian Wood is making a solid adjustment to the Dallas Mavericks.

Christian Wood has found a major rhythm with the Dallas Mavericks since being sidelined for their recent two-game road trip. He scored a season-high 28 points in the team's 127-99 win over the Denver Nuggets on Friday and is averaging 22.0 points and 7.0 rebounds in four games since returning from a knee injury. 

The impact that Wood has provided the Mavs goes well beyond just his last few games. He's averaging 17.5 points and 7.5 rebounds in just 25.2 minutes per game. He's doing so with strong efficiency. He's 57.1 percent from the floor and 43.2 percent from 3-point range with an output of 1.112 points per possession (81st percentile).

"He's a great player," Mavs superstar Luka Doncic said of Wood after Friday's game. "He's a great defensive player. He helps us a lot. The chemistry is going to go up and up with us to understand each other. But as you see on the court, we understand each other good, but we can be better."

When playing for a winning basketball team, every possession holds significant importance. Doing what it takes to get stops on defense matters and being efficient offensively goes a long way. Wood hasn't been on a playoff team in his NBA career and joined a Mavs squad coming off a Western Conference Finals appearance. 

“Christian is just trying to play winning basketball," JaVale McGee said of Wood. "Like you said, this is his first team that’s slotted to make the playoffs and go far in the playoffs. So, he had some moments where he reverses back to playing, I don’t want to say losing basketball, but not winning basketball.

"He’s extremely professional. He works every day and he’s a scorer. He can score that thang. It’s really impressive just seeing his growth. Seeing him figure out, not his role, because his role is clearly to score, but how to get his shots, and positions, and how to also give his other teammates involved.”

McGee, who has a good relationship with Wood, expanded on what it means for Wood to play "winning basketball." On bad teams, there isn't much accountability for the type of shots that are taken. Wood is also still balancing when to attack and when to move the ball as he adjusts to a new team. McGee wants him to know when those shots are supposed to come to further make the most of his opportunities.

“Just taking the right shots," McGee explained. "He’s used to being on bad teams to where he could shoot any shot he wants, and no one is going to say anything. As a team, we hold everyone accountable and he’s already going to get the shots. We’re running plays for him to get the shots. 

"Sometimes he’s in the post and he passes it and I always tell him, ‘They’re not paying you to pass out the post unless you’re getting double teamed or something,’ but he’ll pass it when he’s getting single coverage. I’m like, ‘No, go to work. This is what you’re here for – to score so don’t pass those up. If you get double teamed, OK make the right basketball play, but other than that go to work try to get a bucket.’”

Wood is forming a potent duo with Doncic when they share the floor together. No player on the Mavs has recorded more made field goals (26) after receiving a pass from Doncic than Wood despite only playing a total of 186 minutes together — ranking sixth in total minutes played among all two-man combos involving Doncic. 

Right now, Mavs coach Jason Kidd sees a real comfort level that Wood has in his role. The impact Wood has made has been beyond satisfactory on both ends of the floor, based on Kidd's evaluation. The unselfish nature of Wood's approach has been something that's impressed Kidd, too. 

“I think he’s comfortable," Kidd said of Wood. "I think that you can see that he’s comfortable playing his role. He’s doing a great job for us on both ends, offense and defense. 

"Just understanding that we’re trying to get the ball offensively because he is a talent. The nice part about that is he’s really unselfish and he’s looking to make the right play – and he’s doing that for a high level for us right now, and we need that.”

It remains to be seen what the Mavs ultimately plan to do with Wood's involvement in their rotation long-term. There has already been a willingness to revoke McGee's starting status after an offseason promise. At some point, it does seem rather clear that Dallas is at their best when Doncic and Wood share the floor — making it logical to lean much more into that in terms of lineups.

Want the latest in breaking news and insider information on the Dallas Mavericks? Click Here.

Follow on Twitter and Facebook.