The Dallas Mavericks traded their 2022 first-round pick and four players that were outside their playoff rotation for Christian Wood in the offseason. It was a surprising move that many viewed as a steal. How could a forward that averaged 19.1 points, 9.9 rebounds, and 1.0 block per game only be worth a late first-round pick and Boban Marjanovic? Everybody loves Bobi, and he is one of the best teammates in the league, but Marjanovic will not be playing heavy minutes for the Rockets this season.
Wood’s talent is undeniable, but the Mavericks are his seventh team since coming to the NBA in 2015, and the Pistons let him walk in free agency after his breakout 2019-2020 season. The 27-year-old has never played in an NBA playoff game, and his team has won just 31.0 percent of his 222 career contests.
Can C-Wood contribute to a winning team? Can he hold up on the defensive end of the floor? Wood’s play will determine the Mavs level of success this season. They need the 6’10 forward to be a key contributor if Dallas wants to go on another deep playoff run, and here is how and why Wood can do just that.
Dallas Mavericks need Christian Wood to buy in on defense
The Mavs reached the conference finals last season behind their defense. They jumped from 21st to seventh in defensive rating during the regular season before holding the Jazz to 100 or fewer points in four of the six games to win their first playoff series since 2011. Dallas followed that up by limiting the Suns to their three lowest scoring games of the season over the seven contests to advance to the conference finals.
Jason Kidd has preached defense from the moment he was hired, and that has been Wood’s biggest issue in his career. The 6’10 forward finished 189th of 250 qualified players in FiveThirtyEight’s defensive RAPTOR last season. Can the Mavs get C-Wood to hold his own on the defensive end this year?
Wood’s path to starter’s minutes comes from improving his defense. The Mavs have confidence in Maxi Kleber, and he will play in crunch time if Wood struggles mightily on defense. Wood has all the talent, but can he make it translate on the court? It is a massive question only he can answer this season.