Dallas Mavericks traded a first-round pick and four players that were outside their playoff rotation for Christian Wood after last season’s run to the conference finals. Wood was supposed to make up for the scoring lost by the departure of Jalen Brunson, and some believed he would be a game-changing acquisition for Dallas, but things have not gone according to plan thus far.
Wood is averaging 16.6 points per game on 57.3 percent shooting from the field and 43.2 percent on his 3-point tries. He has been an outstanding pick and roll partner for Luka Doncic, and the 6’10 big man is currently the team’s third-leading scorer. The issue has been his playing time. Wood averages just 24.6 minutes per game and the only time he has played over 30 was the night Doncic rested.
Fans want C-Wood to play more, and he has been frustrated with his lack of time, but there are three reasons why he is not getting more run. It has a lot to do with head coach Jason Kidd’s philosophy, and here is a closer look at why.
Why Dallas Mavericks aren’t playing Christian Wood more: 3. Defense
Wood is a subpar defender, and there is seven years of evidence in that case. He is 6’10 and athletic, but Wood just cannot put it all together. The Mavs do not want him to get switched onto the perimeter, and he struggles to protect the rim. Right now, Dallas is trying to hide him on defense, and pairing him with Maxi Kleber or Dorian Finney-Smith helps coach Kidd do that.
His defensive numbers in his first 16 games with the Mavericks are strong. He is 66th in the NBA in FiveThirtyEight’s defensive RAPTOR, and 95th in defensive win shares. Defensive box score plus-minus is not as kind as Wood is 123rd of 204 qualified players.
The pairings matter as coach Kidd wants to make sure the team’s defense stays afloat. The Hall of Fame point guard has preached defense since taking over the job, and it was the reason Dallas reached the conference finals last season. They are not going to leave Wood on the floor for extended stretches if it is going to compromise their defense, and Dallas is already trying to hide Luka Doncic to conserve his energy.
Christian Wood needs to take a step forward on the defensive end of the floor if he wants to play more minutes, which includes gaining the trust of the coaching staff.