The Los Angeles Lakers have quietly undergone a productive offseason, securing the services of most of their crucial free agents from the 2023-24 NBA season. However, they did part ways with their starting point guard, Dennis Schroder, who now suits up for the Toronto Raptors. Alongside retaining their key pieces, the Lakers have executed some astute signings.
A notable facet of their offseason strategy involved offering “prove-it” deals to a handful of players, including former lottery picks Cam Reddish and Jaxson Hayes. One such acquisition, Christian Wood, stands out due to his proven abilities, even though he also inked a veteran’s minimum contract.
Christian Wood doesn’t need to demonstrate much on the court at this juncture. Unlike Reddish and Hayes, Wood has unequivocally showcased his prowess in the league. Nevertheless, the question looms over whether he’s simply an empty-calorie scorer or possesses more depth in his game.
This veteran power forward/center possesses the capability to rack up points from virtually anywhere on the court and has consistently delivered in the realm of rebounding, albeit in limited playing time. His defense, however, has remained inconsistent throughout his career. It may be unrealistic to anticipate a dramatic shift in this aspect, especially given his current age of 27.
One noteworthy statistic missing from Wood’s NBA journey thus far is playoff experience. Over his seven seasons, this 6’10” big man has donned the jerseys of seven different teams, yet he has never set foot in the postseason. Some caveats exist; the Dallas Mavericks deliberately tanked their way out of the play-in cut in the previous season to retain their top-10 protected lottery pick, a scenario in which Wood found himself. Moreover, he briefly joined the competitive Milwaukee Bucks, under the future Lakers head coach Darvin Ham, in the 2018-19 season. However, he was traded to the New Orleans Pelicans before the playoffs commenced.
For Wood, the tide is set to change this year, barring unforeseen circumstances or a trade. The pressing question now centers on the extent of his positive influence on a Lakers roster laden with veterans, hungry for success. While rumors of Wood being a locker room challenge have circulated among former teammates and coaches, LeBron James, with his two-decade-long career, has honed his ability to manage temperamental colleagues.
Wood’s unique shooting abilities, especially considering his size, make him a valuable asset for the Lakers, a team grappling with spacing issues in their frontcourt. Throughout his career, he’s maintained a 37.9% shooting accuracy from beyond the arc, attempting 3.5 threes per game. Last season, he impressed further, sinking 37.6% of his 4.2 triple attempts per game. His undeniable talent could lead to an outsized impact on the Lakers’ roster, but can he adapt seamlessly?
The forthcoming season holds the answers, as the Lakers and their fans eagerly await the Christian Wood experiment.