The Dallas Mavericks are taking a flyer on talented big man Christian Wood ahead of what will be a contract year. He is set to be utilized in what will begin as a bench role with JaVale McGee in the starting five.
Wood is coming off a 2021-22 campaign averaging 17.9 points, 10.1 rebounds, and 2.3 assists in 68 appearances. He shot an impressive 50.1 percent from the floor and 39.0 percent from beyond the arc.
At times, the Rockets did not receive a positive attitude from Wood. Despite being 25 last season, he should have been looked up to as a leader on a young team. Houston decided to lean fully into the Alperen Sengun era instead.
ESPN releases an annual ranking of the top 100 players in the NBA ahead of the upcoming season. For the 2022-23 season, Wood ranked No. 92 overall ahead of what will be his first campaign as a member of the Mavericks.
A significant factor that contributed to Wood going from being ranked No. 60 in the 2021-22 edition down to No. 92 is the expectation that he will play a sixth man role.
"Wood, who averaged 19.1 points and 9.9 rebounds per game over the past two seasons for the rebuilding Rockets, has an opportunity to prove that he can contribute to a winning team," Tim MacMahon wrote. "The Mavs plan to feature Wood as a sixth man -- a role that might not be easy for him to accept as he enters a contract year."
Perhaps most intriguing of all is that Wood doesn't too far from former Mavs star Kristaps Porzingis, who was traded midseason for Spencer Dinwiddie and Davis Bertans. Dinwiddie is set to play an integral role in the backcourt while Wood may have replaced Porzingis.
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If Wood proves to be a positive locker room presence and contributes on defense, it would be difficult to keep him in a bench role. Those are two boxes that will need to be checked and given that it's a contract year for him, he has all the reason to do so.
The Mavericks' ceiling will be impacted significantly by how Wood meshes with the team. If he buys into his role and proves not be a negative defender, his dynamic offensive skill-set could be maximized alongside Luka Doncic in a greater capacity.
There is a wide range of possibilities for how Wood can shape his reputation in 2022-23. If he fails to live up to expectations on a team coming off a Western Conference Finals appearance, he may not be viewed as a top 100 NBA player altogether ahead of the 2023-24 season.
You can follow Grant Afseth on Twitter at @GrantAfseth.
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