Rewinding the Process: Christian Wood’s strange path to NBA success


Christian Wood had one of the strangest starts to his basketball career. Despite being a projected late first-round draft pick, the 6’ 10” forward slipped completely out of the 2015 NBA draft. After participating in the Summer League with the Houston Rockets, Wood was signed to the 76ers in late September. Then, things got a little weird.

Between September 27th and early January, Wood constantly flip-flopped back and forth between the Sixers and their D-League affiliate team (Delaware 87ers). He was officially released from the main roster on January 4th, but then signed back to the 87ers two days later. A few weeks after that and he was re-signed by the 76ers, just to be waived a few days later. A few days after that, he was once again picked up by the 87ers. Less than three weeks later, Wood was promoted to the main roster via a 10-day contract. Finally, on April 7th, he was signed to a permanent contract for the remainder of the season.

Needless to say, Wood’s rookie season in the NBA wasn’t your stereotypical one. He was constantly driving back and forth between Philly and Delaware, and appeared in just 17 games at the professional level. Despite overall struggling when he did play in the NBA, general manager at the time Sam Hinkie was a strong supporter of Wood, hence how often he was called back to the team.

With Hinkie now out of the building in 2016, the 76ers no longer had any serious attachment to Wood. He played with the Sixers during the Summer League, and was then snatched up by the Charlotte Hornets.

Wood once again saw himself bounce back and forth between the NBA and the D-League in Charlotte, at one point even attempting to play overseas in China. The “Fujian Sturgeons” waived him before he played a single game, and he returned back home to the Delaware 87ers for the remainder of the 2017 season.

Wood had a short stint with the Milwaukee Bucks in 2018 before eventually getting a legit shot at some minutes in New Orleans. With the season winding down and Anthony Davis refusing to play, Wood would see himself average 23.6 minutes across eight games with the Pelicans. Taking full advantage of this opportunity, Wood averaged 16.9 points per game on 53.3% shooting.

After exploding onto the scene with the Pelicans, Wood was claimed off waivers by the Detroit Pistons with a more permanent role in place. Operating primarily as a sixth man off the bench, Wood is currently averaging 13.1 points and 6.3 rebounds per game. He’s posting career-highs in both FG% (56.7%) and 3P% (38.6%). After four long years of waiting, Wood is finally proving his worth in the NBA.

Despite it sounding like he’s been in the league for ages, Wood is still just 24 years old. He’s seen his game steadily improve over the years, and he’s started to fill out his lengthy frame. Set to enter the offseason as an unrestricted free agent, Wood will likely see a team shell out a decent amount of cash to obtain his services. After all this time, Wood is appearing to be yet another under-the-radar prospect that Sam Hinkie was right about.

Christian Wood put up a career-high 32 points against his old team in the Sixers on March 11th, the last game to be played before the league-wide shutdown. A few days after this dominant performance, it was announced Wood had tested positive for COVID-19. Luckily, it appears he has undergone a full recovery and should be 100% healthy by the season’s return.

Check out some of the other entries in our “Rewinding the Process” series:

Nerlens NoelHollis ThompsonJahlil OkaforDario Saric

Nik StauskasMichael Carter-WilliamsTony Wroten, Jerami Grant

Mandatory Credit – © Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports