How Christian Wood can take his game to the next level

Wood relies on length, long strides, and athleticism. Composite image by Jack Brame.

Christian Wood has proven his worth with the Houston Rockets. Spectators, including the Rockets know that Wood is worth more than he's getting paid. It will be interesting to see the type of extension Wood gets.

Although, Wood has given the Rockets a good season, he still has areas inside his game that need improvement. Wood's weight, low post defense, versatile big man moves, and foot work must come together. If Wood fixes these aspects of his game, he can move amongst the best big men in the NBA.

If Wood fixes his foot work, it allows him to stay in front of guards when switched towards them in pick-and-roll situations. Good footwork will improve his drop coverage and low post defense on big men. Versatility on defense is important in today's era of basketball for big men. Wood is around the 42nd percentile and allows 1.5 points per possession in post defense. His defensive rating is extremely high, which is 111.9. Hopefully, in the future his percentile goes up and makes it harder on big men defensively.

Should Wood gain more weight, so he becomes better in one-on-one situations? This includes offense and defense. Wood gaining weight would be a good idea. This could help him fight off bigger players in the post and get better positioning. Opposing players would have a tougher time backing down Wood in the paint. For example, former Rockets' big man Clint Capela weighed 222 pounds as a rookie. Capela became more dominant within five years with the Rockets because he gained 20 pounds.

Capela averaged 2.7 points per game in seven minutes as a rookie to 15.7 points per game in 30 minutes as a vet with the Atlanta Hawks. Luckily, Wood is more skilled than Capela was.

Obviously, Coach Silas allows Wood to play outside the perimeter because of his small frame. The five-out offense fits Wood well because of his versatility with the basketball. Honestly, he would dominate more if his post package was created in the off-season. Having an in-and-out game would move Wood forward amongst the big men. Wood only averages 1.5 points per possession and is still in the 42nd percentiles for post offense. As seen below, Wood struggles to back down a 175 pound RJ Hampton in the post but still finished with a put-back dunk.

Wood relies on length, long strides, and athleticism to blow by defenders from the perimeter. Defenders struggle to guard Wood in pick-and-roll situations. He is in the 70th percentile and averages 1.21 points per possession amongst big men in pick-and-roll opportunities. Silas will disguise the pick-and-roll in various offensive sets so Wood can free himself. John Wall and Wood's connection continues to get better in the pick-and-roll aspect.

"Him [Wall] and C-Wood have a connection in the pick-and-roll," Silas said. "As long as we have a good screening angle, we can get those rolls. Especially if they're going to play C-Wood with a smaller guy, he can go up and get it. A connection between those guys is good and it continues to grow."

Another thing Wood does so well is shooting from three. Wood's 6'10 frame allows him to shoot over the defenders outstretched arms. He shoots 37.6 percent from three off five attempts per game. His true shooting percentage is 59.7 percent while his efficiency field goal percentage is 58.1 percent. Wood's shooting splits are extremely good as a first-time starter. "Definitely a learning experience for me," said Wood when it came to him starting a full season.

Wood does want to become a better playmaker and stronger as a player. He wants to reach the highest ceiling of his career. Wood can potentially become a dominant superstar with the Rockets. A player like Wood could take time. He isn't far from reaching his goal.

"I feel like my playmaking could be better and I will be working on strength and conditioning in the off-season," Wood said. "Those are the two areas that I can take my game to the next level."

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Kyle Tucker had a big day at the plate on Sunday. Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images

After splitting the first two games of the series, with one team or the other putting on a solid offensive performance in each, the Astros tried to win their fourth series in their last five by taking the rubber game on Sunday against the Blue Jays. Thanks in part to a big day from Kyle Tucker, who played a significant role in the early offense they used to power to the win, they would accomplish their mission.

Final Score: Astros 7, Blue Jays 4

Astros' Record: 18-16, second in the AL West

Winning Pitcher: Bryan Abreu (2-1)

Losing Pitcher: Nate Pearson (0-1)

Kyle Tucker helps lead the offense to seven unanswered runs

Houston did not go easy on Nate Pearson in his 2021 debut. After a scoreless first, the Astros loaded the bases on two walks and a single, then brought the first run of the day home on an RBI walk by Michael Brantley. Another walk opened the door in the bottom of the third, and Kyle Tucker capitalized with an RBI triple to make it 2-0, followed by an RBI single by Robel Garcia to make it a three-run lead, ending Pearson's day one out into the bottom of the third.

Things didn't get easier for Toronto's pitching in the next inning, as Jose Altuve would lead off the bottom of the fourth with a solo homer. A single and a walk then set up another big hit for Kyle Tucker, a three-run dinger to make it seven unanswered runs and giving Tucker four RBI on the day.

Blue Jays pound Greinke in the fifth

After four shutout innings to start his day on the mound, working around a few hits along the way, Zack Greinke tried to cash in on his team's offense to get another win on his record. He wouldn't be able to get it done, though, as Toronto would get after him in the top of the fifth. They would score four times amongst five batters that came to the plate, with a solo homer by Rowdy Tellez, a two-RBI double by Bo Bichette, and an RBI single by Vladimir Guerrero Jr.

That made it a 7-4 game, and with Greinke still not having recorded an out in the frame, Dusty Baker would lift him at 88 pitches in favor of Bryan Abreu, who would get a pop out and a double play to end the inning and keep the lead at three runs. Greinke's final line: 4.0 IP, 9 H, 4 ER, 0 BB, 4 K, 1 HR, 88 P.

Houston takes the series

No more runs would come on either side the rest of the way, with Kent Emanuel working around a single for a scoreless sixth, Ryne Stanek getting a 1-2-3 seventh, and Andre Scrubb doing the same in the eighth to set up Ryan Pressly for the save. Pressly would get the job done, sending the Blue Jays down in order, including two strikeouts to wrap up the win and giving Houston the series victory.

Up Next: The Astros will stay at home to continue this homestand, welcoming in the Angels for three games starting Monday at 7:10 PM Central. The opener will feature a pitching matchup of Alex Cobb (1-2, 5.48 ERA) for Los Angeles and Luis Garcia (0-3, 3.28 ERA) for Houston.

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