NBA

Distribution of exchanges: Christian Wood to non-conformists

ADVERTISEMENT

This is the first in our series breaking down the top trades of the 2022 offseason. Instead of giving ratings, this series will explore Why the teams were motivated to take action. We start with a draft agreement between the Mavericks and the Rockets…


Most of the immediate reaction to the Rockets Sending in progress christian wood to Mavericks in exchange for 26e take, Boban MarjanotyouI, Sterling Brown, Trey Burk and Marquis Chriss was surprised by the relatively low value of Wood, which gave the general impression that the My VErics got a flight.

ADVERTISEMENT

So why did the Rockets move Wood for a late first round (the Rockets then flipped the pick for the 29e selection – used on Ty Ty Washington – and a couple of Wolves second rounds) and four expiring contracts? After all, the talented big man has averaged 19.1 points, 9.9 rebounds, 2.1 assists and 1.0 blocks in 109 games (31.4 minutes) for Houston over the past two seasons, posting a line of fire of 0.507/0.384/0.626.

The first part of the answer is simple: After finishing with the league’s worst record for the second straight season, Houston picked up the third overall pick in the draft. The Rockets knew that one of Paolo Banchero, Chet Holmgren Where Jabari Smith (which they ultimately chose) would be available there, so they needed to move Wood to clear a few-minute traffic jam in the frontcourt for the incoming rookie and sophomore big man. Alperen Sengun.

Wood is too good not to play, and bringing him off the bench in place of a rookie and second-year player doesn’t make sense for either team – Wood would be unhappy and you don’t get optimal value in not introducing a player you are looking to deal with. Wood is also set to expire on his own contract ($14.3m), will be 27 before the season, and wasn’t part of the team’s long-term plans, so all of those things have hurt power. of Houston trading.

It’s also fair to wonder, to some extent, what impact Wood actually had on winning his tenure with the Rockets, given the team finished with the league’s worst record two years in a row. Obviously, it’s not all up to him, but last season the team had a better net rating when he was stopped the field (-8.4) than on it (-9.6).

Rocket GM Raphael’s Stone is smart. All NBA front offices are run by smart people. The rest of the league knew Houston had to earn minutes in the frontcourt, and given that Wood outplayed his three-year, $41 million contract, regardless of which team acquired him, he also knew. that he would have to be paid handsomely to keep him – Wood is going to be eligible to sign a contract extension worth up to $77 million over four years at the end of December, as reported by ESPN’s Bobby Marks at time of the exchange.

Thus, its market value turned out to be 26e pick and four expiring contracts that range between $2.2 million and $3.5 million. The expiring deals were key for the Rockets, as they plan to have a ton of cap space in 2023, and Houston is a big market that could reasonably attract free agents with its young and talented core (the fact that Texas has no state income tax also contributes to a selling point).

I’m skeptical that Marjanovic, Burke, Brown, or Chriss have positive value in the trade market, and chances are most of them won’t be on Houston’s roster before the start of the regular season, that’s why I refer to it. collectively as expiring contracts. The squad currently has 18 players on standard deals and that number is to be reduced to 15 by October. If any of these players stay on the roster, it will likely be down to their impact off the court as much as what they can do on the court, as the Rockets are in the midst of rebuilding and won’t be prioritizing players. minutes for veterans.

Still, clearing playing time on the front line, not having to worry about paying Wood in the future, and acquiring a young player with the potential to be under the control of the team for up to nine years (four rookie-wide contract plus up to five more via extension or as a restricted free agent) were all attractive reasons to trade Wood, despite his productivity for Houston.

The Mavericks’ motivation for making the deal was relatively simple. Dallas reached the Western Conference Finals last season and entered the offseason with a clear goal in mind to improve the frontcourt, and Wood instantly becomes the most dynamic pick-and-roll partner. Luka Doncic has never been paired with.

There’s no denying that Wood is a talented player. Only nine players averaged at least 17 points and 10 rebounds last season: Nikola Jokic, Joel Embid, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Domantas Sabonis, Jonas Valanciunas, Nikola Vucevic, Deandre Ayton, Bam Adebayo and Wood.

Of all those MVP and All-Star winners, Wood had the highest three-point percentage at 39%. He also shot 67% at the rim, which was in the 79e percentile of all players last season, according to DunksAndThrees.com.

The Mavs had a hard time bouncing the ball last season. They completed 24e in the league rebounding during the regular season and were significantly outshot in every playoff series they played: -7.1 rebounds per game against Utah, -7.7 against Phoenix, and -11.4 against Golden State. The wood was in the 97e percentile for defensive rebound percentage (30%) last season, according to DunksAndThrees.

There are also several counter-arguments that show the Rockets were a much better team when Wood was on the court than they were off during his tenure.

Despite the aforementioned net rating differential, Houston was 19-49 when playing last season and 1-13 when it didn’t, and 12-29 when playing in 20/21 to 5-24 when he didn’t. The Rockets were also significantly better when on the court (-4.0) in 20/21 compared to outside (-10.5).

The four players the Mavs sent to the Rockets had minimal field value last season, and none were in the playoff rotation. In addition to clearing four spots on the roster (five-to-one, including the first round), Dallas is essentially betting that Wood will outperform a player entering his rookie season, which is a pretty safe bet.

The risks for the Mavericks stem from Wood being a poor defensive player, playing mostly center with Houston and would slide forward to accommodate a new frontline partner. JaVale McGee, and is on an expiring agreement. Dallas will own the rights to Wood’s Bird if the two teams fail to secure a mid-season extension, but it won’t come cheap. This factor should not be overlooked for a team that could face the repeater tax in 23/24.

It’s unclear how the pairing of Wood and McGee in the starting lineup will impact the team’s spacing, but it looks like it could dampen Wood’s pick-and-place effectiveness to some extent. roll. McGee thinks he’s a lead roll man given Wood’s ability to shoot from range, but Wood is capable of much more than just being a point shooter.

That’s not to say they’ll always share the court together, and the Mavs will definitely be an improved rebounding team and have more rim protection, but Wood is a major downgrade from Maxi Kleber defensively, although he is a much more hard-hitting attacking player.

Since entering his 27-year-old season, Wood is theoretically entering his prime, which better fits the Mavericks’ timeline as they try to be as competitive as possible for the foreseeable future. The fact that they lost an asset whose costs were under control on the 26e picking hurts from a long-term financial standpoint, but Wood is virtually certain to have a bigger impact right now, making it a worthwhile risk.

ADVERTISEMENT