Contending free agent option No. 2: Christian Wood
In the quest to contend, the Portland Trail Blazers need to address their frontcourt and find a reliable contributor at the center position. While Jusuf Nurkic has shown flashes of brilliance, his injury history has raised concerns about his long-term availability.
This is where Christian Wood enters the picture as an enticing free-agent target for the Blazers.
Wood, a 6-foot-11 versatile big man who had a strong season with the Dallas Mavericks in 2022-23, displaying his ability to impact the game on both ends of the floor. His offensive prowess is particularly intriguing for the Blazers, as he’d add an offensive threat in the frontcourt to their high-scoring backcourt.
Wood’s offensive capabilities would add a new dimension to the Blazers’ attack on the interior. Last season, he averaged 16.6 ppg while shooting an impressive 51.5 percent from the field and 37.6 percent from beyond the arc. His scoring efficiency and shooting range would create additional spacing on the court, opening up driving lanes for Lillard and providing opportunities for kick-out passes to shooters.
The Blazers struggled with rebounding and interior defense last season, and Wood could significantly improve these areas. His athleticism and 7-foot-3 wingspan enable him to be an effective rebounder, as he collected 7.3 boards per game last season. His rebounding prowess would help the Blazers secure second-chance opportunities and limit opponents’ offensive rebounds, providing additional possessions for their high-powered offense.
Defensively, Wood’s shot-blocking ability and quickness would be valuable assets for the Blazers. He averaged 1.1 blocks per game last season, showcasing his ability to protect the rim and deter opponents from driving to the basket. With Wood anchoring the defense, the Blazers would have a reliable rim protector who can erase defensive breakdowns and provide a strong presence in the paint.
The fit between Wood and the Blazers’ current roster appears seamless. His offensive firepower would complement Lillard’s scoring ability, while his rebounding and shot-blocking would address the team’s frontcourt deficiencies. Additionally, Wood’s youth (he’s 27 years old) and potential for further development align with the Blazers’ desire to build a contending team around their core of talented guards.
Securing Wood’s services would likely require the Blazers to utilize the full mid-level exception (MLE). This investment is necessary, considering Wood’s impact on both ends of the floor and the team’s need for a reliable frontcourt presence. Signing Wood would be a clear sign to Lillard that the team is serious about contending by upgrading at the center position.