Despite being a 6-foot-10 big man with obvious athletic gifts, Christian Wood went undrafted by the NBA in 2015. According to Wood himself, there were questions at the time regarding his effort and energy levels.
For the next four years, Wood bounced around in limited roles with NBA teams (Philadelphia, Charlotte, Milwaukee, and New Orleans) and even played significant time in the G League to help turn heads. In 2019-20, he finally got his first limited opportunity as a starter after Detroit’s midseason trade of Andre Drummond, and he parlayed that success into a bigger opportunity with the Houston Rockets in free agency.
From there, Wood certainly took advantage. With the Rockets, Wood averaged 21.0 points (51.4% FG, 37.4% on 3-pointers) and 9.6 rebounds in 32.3 minutes per game, and he was even drawing All-Star consideration prior to an ankle sprain that cut his 2020-21 season short.
If he can stay healthy, that likely puts Wood on a star-like trajectory entering the 2021-22 season, and it may make him a potential candidate for a maximum salary contract when he next becomes a free agent in 2023. It’s quite a journey for an undrafted free agent, and Wood reflected on his path in a recent voicemail to his mother (via Uninterrupted):
What’s up, mom, it’s Chris. After finishing up another NBA season, I can’t help but think about that night in 2015 when I was passed over in the draft. That feeling, like I was a failure. I like to think about that night sometimes, because it helps me put how far I’ve come into perspective. It helps me stay grateful to you for your sacrifice, and it keeps me strong for what’s to come.
I went undrafted that night, and even after I got in, I’ve been waived and pushed from team to team. Maybe that would break some other players. Maybe they would give up. But you know I’m not like that. You know, every time I go somewhere new… every time I’m given a chance to show people who I am, I show them by playing harder and outperforming myself every time.
The road’s been long, and there’s so much farther to go. But, you know I’m getting better every step of the way. I just wanted to call you and thank you for always believing in me, especially that night when I didn’t even believe in myself. I love you, Mom.
Full audio of the phone message can be listened to below.
With Wood as a certain starter in the frontcourt, the Rockets will open training camp for the 2021-22 season in late September.
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Source: Yahoo Sports