In a surprising turn of events, the Pelicans have waived big man Christian Wood. He could be a perfect fit to patch up the Portland Trail Blazers rotation.
With Jusuf Nurkic expected to spend the majority of the season recuperating from injury and the promising Zach Collins expected to slide into the starting power forward role, the Portland Trail Blazers have a big gap on their roster at backup center.
Christian Wood could be the perfect candidate to claim off the waiver wire and provide the extra boost the Blazers need to contend for a title. Much like Enes Kanter last year, Portland has seen first hand the value of picking up a talented player for cheap off of waivers.
Shams Charania of the Athletic was the first to break this news.
Last year was Wood’s third official year in the league after missing play in 2017-18. Floating between the 76ers, Hornets and Bucks, Wood never got the chance to properly display his abilities — never exceeding more than eight minutes played per game.
However, Wood’s stint with the tanking New Orleans Pelicans finally allowed him the chance to play a featured role on the court, seeing the court for 23.6 minutes per game and even starting a pair of his eight games played with New Orleans.
In that time, he averaged 16.9 points, 7.9 rebounds and 1.3 blocks per game. That translates to 25.7 points, 12 rebounds and 1.9 blocks per 36 minutes. Additionally, he attempted 2.6 three-point shots per game and displayed a willingness to stretch the floor (he shot 28.6 percent on those attempts, but 6-for-21 is much too small a sample size to draw over-arching conclusions).
Wood also projects to be a plus on the defensive end, with averages of 1.3 blocks and 0.9 steals per game in limited play time. Wood also rates out positively in advanced stats, with a 107 Defensive Rating while his Defensive Win Shares and Defensive Box Plus/Minus keep pace with their offensive counterparts.
A young big man who can stretch the floor and play versatile defense in the paint or on the perimeter is the perfect pairing next to the current power forwards on the roster Collins and Anthony Tolliver. Adding Wood would go hand-in-hand with the Portland Trail Blazers active effort to transition to a more modern scheme this offseason.
The Blazers have a track record with picking up top talent at a bargain of a price with Kanter and Seth Curry last season. Perhaps Wood could be the next minor pickup that makes a major difference for the Portland Trail Blazers’ title aspirations.