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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Another tough loss for the Texans. Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images.

The Houston Texans started fast but faltered late as the New York Jets hand Houston their ninth loss of the season 21-14. Here are 11 observations from the game.

1. Starting safety Justin Reid was benched for the game. David Culley said after the game it was his decision as head coach and he would keep the matter internal with Reid.

2. This is the third defender benched for disciplinary reasons this season. Reid joins Zach Cunningham and Desmond King as players who missed time for discipline.

3. Justin Reid told Fox 26 he was benched because he had a disagreement with the coaching staff. He also said he was shocked the Texans benched him. You have to wonder if the “culture” the team is building is right when one of the more likable and personable players falls victim to their rules. Reid, who is a free agent this offseason, could leave the Texans.

4. Tyrod Taylor had a couple of nice plays early on for the Texans. His willingness to take some shots downfield was refreshing and led to a touchdown pass to Brandin Cooks.

5. Rookie tight end Brevin Jordan found the end zone. He has played well in recent weeks after finally getting on the field. Jordan is playing over Jordan Akins as Akins was a healthy scratch again this week.

6. Tytus Howard started at left tackle with mixed results. Howard has struggled to find his way at guard but could be a long-term option at tackle if given the chance.

7. The offensive line overall played poorly after some early success. The pass rush of the Jets got going and the run blocking was poor again. Lane Taylor played at left guard some, with Max Scharping also playing some at that spot.

8. The offense was horrendous after the two scoring drives. The Texans amassed 202 net yards with 91 yards coming on those two scoring drives. Houston gained just 49 net yards after their opening three drives.

9. After the game, I asked David Culley if he would be making a change with his play-caller. Culley stood behind offensive coordinator Tim Kelly and said he would remain the team’s play-caller.

10. Second-year defensive lineman Ross Blacklock had two horrible errors that handed the Jets a chance to turn three points into seven points. Blacklock got a personal foul on a field goal attempt giving the Jets a first down. The very next play his offsides penalty erased a sack. Each week Blacklock falls even more behind a bevy of players drafted after him who contribute positively on a regular basis.

11. The loss to another bottom-dweller has the Texans back in the second spot in the 2022 NFL Draft order. It also feels like the deflating nature of this loss erased some of the good feelings after the victory over the Titans. The Indianapolis Colts come to Houston next week to begin December’s portion of the schedule.

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