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Mavericks’ Christian Wood is checking off every box as a starter, including more committed effort on defense

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In the last seconds of overtime against the Los Angeles Lakers last week, Christian Wood came up with a saving block against LeBron James to extend the match into a second overtime that the Mavericks won. Wood finished that game with five blocks, 24 points, 14 rebounds and six assists.

There is nothing new in scoring. That’s the main reason the Mavericks traded for him. But the improved protection, well, it draws attention.

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“I definitely wanted to prove [people wrong]and I had something to prove,” Wood told CBS Sports. I think I’ve had a couple of games where I’ve been just over two or three blocks a game and I definitely felt good just proving people wrong. It was big for me.”

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Wood, in his seventh NBA season, is now playing for his seventh NBA team, and the Mavs are the first winning team he has played on as a pro. He attributes his improvements in defense to this success and team culture.

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“Everyone has a responsibility for each other, but also that everyone just communicates,” said Wood, 27. “When I came here, everyone hugged me.”

player headshot

Christian Wood

DAL • S • #35
BCP18.3
RPG8.4
GDP1.24
FG%53.5
3P%38.3

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Wood has no intention of claiming Defensive Player of the Year, but his commitment to being involved on this end of the floor, communicating and, as he said, “not caring about being dunked” has built trust between him, his teammates and the coaching team. headquarters.

Since joining the first team full-time on December 17, Wood has averaged 2.4 blocks per game, ranking fifth in the league at the time. He ranks 10th in the league in field goal protected percentage, capping opponents at just 44.5% (minimum 15 saved shots per game) since becoming a first-team player, a notable improvement from last season with “Rockets”.

Year DFGA/G Percentage of field goals scored Average field goal percentage

22-23 (from December 17)

17.6

44.5%

48.6%

21-22

16.4

47.1%

47.1%

Essentially, what Wood has done over the past month is keep opponents 4.1 percentage points lower than average. It’s not an outstanding result, but it’s enough to turn the tide for Dallas, something a team with three injured top defensemen desperately needed.

“I think the guys are lashing out at him just by being straight, man to man, and he took on the challenge,” Tim Hardaway Jr. said of Wood’s improved defense. “We challenge him to do a lot of things defensively, we know he can score, a great offensive talent, but what will set him apart from most is how he impacts defensive play.”

Defense isn’t the only area Wood has improved since he was promoted to the starting XI, his offensive output has also increased.

Games played BCP RPG PNG GDP FG% 3P%

Starter

sixteen

20.3

9.4

2.1

2.3

51.6%

36.7%

Shop

25

17.0

7.8

1.3

0.6

55.1%

40%

The collaboration between Wood and Doncic was impeccable. Wood called his on-court partnership with Doncic a partnership ice cream and fudge, a classic dessert that always delivers. It’s been a pretty good comparison so far, as Wood is converting an average of Doncic’s 2.0 passes into buckets per game, more than anyone else on the team. When they share the court together, Dallas has an offensive rating of 118.4 and a plus-5.2 net rating, the latter of which is the fourth-highest of any two-man combination on the team. By comparison, last season with Doncic, paired with Kristaps Porzingis, who was playing the same role as Wood right now, the duo had a net rating of zero and the Mavs posted just 103.7 offensive ratings.

Wood became Doncic’s ideal pick-and-roll partner due to his versatility as a ring finisher and his ability to pose a threat to pop out and drown a jumper. So it’s not surprising that the former non-draft product ranks first in the league in points per possession as a rollman (minimum 100 possessions), generating 1.5 points per possession. He takes full advantage of the double teams Doncic gets when they pick and roll and this often results in big man baskets like this:

Leave Wood open around the perimeter and he’ll make you pay from there as well:

The success that Wood experiences as a shot is largely due to Doncic making his life easier by dropping a dime despite significant defensive pressure. But Wood still needs to complete frames, and he does it at high speed. While Wood and Doncic have only started 12 games together so far, their chemistry mirrors that of teammates who have played together for years.

“He doesn’t get mad at me when I yell at him sometimes and that’s something I appreciate.” Doncic said Wood recently after a workout. “Sometimes with me on the court, it’s probably difficult. I just want to win. But he appreciates it, he never gets angry. He listens to me and I listen to him.

But becoming a Dallas regular was out of the question when Wood was traded to the Mavericks last summer. He started the season off the bench and has said on numerous occasions that he is willing to accept whatever role is needed for his team to win, although he admits he was a bit overwhelmed when he found out about his role on the bench.

“It took me by surprise because, you know, nobody told me anything,” Wood said. “I found out through Media Day. I was actually told by a reporter, so it took me a little by surprise. But even then, you know, I told them I would accept any role.”

Wood has excelled in every role that Dallas needs. And while his place in the starting lineup is not mandatory as the Mavs deal with injuries, he makes it difficult for Jason Kidd to justify moving him back to the bench when those players return.

As the team’s number two scorer, it would be surprising to see Wood forced to give up his starting position, especially since he’s proven he’s ready to improve his defense in this recent stretch. It’s true that Wood still got starting minutes coming off the bench, but the chemistry he’s built with starters over the past month wouldn’t be the same if he checked midway through the first quarter. If for no other reason, Wood’s powerful one-two that Wood formed with Doncic should be proof in itself that he should be a mainstay in the starting lineup.

Though if that happens, Wood said he doesn’t mind at all not being with the first division anymore.

“Like I said at the beginning of the season, I will accept any role and try my best to excel in that role,” Wood said. “I’m only here to win and that’s all I care about. I don’t care about starting or coming off the bench, I just want to win games.”




Source: www.cbssports.com

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