During James Harden‘s tenure as a Houston Rocket, he has played with average to below-average big men. This is why Christian Wood Could be the Best Center Harden Has Ever Had. From Omer Asik to Donatas Motiejūnas and Greg Smith Harden has never had a versatile big who can dominate a game.
This is not to say that Dwight Howard in his first year or Clint Capela in the later stages of his Rockets career weren’t good centers. In Howard’s case, he was actually the best player for the Rockets his first year in Houston. For as good as Howard and Capela were neither big man had skills outside of the paint (Also, quick caveat Kevin Durant is more of a wing player that played power forward at times not necessarily a true big man).
Christian Wood Could be the Best Center Harden Has Ever Had. Here are three reasons why Wood can become the most elite big man Harden has teamed up with.
Wood Could be the Best Center Harden has Ever Had because…
Wood is versatile
Never in the Harden era have the Rockets had a center who could handle the ball, score in the post, and shoot from the outside. Wood gives you all three and is still getting better. At 6 ft 10 inches, Wood is an above-average 3-point shooter, a good enough ball-handler to get to the basket, and has a great touch in the paint in traffic.
This opens up many possibilities for the Rockets. Even on a few plays early in the season, Wood has been the player to initiate a pick and rolls with Harden getting him more catch and shoot opportunities.
Wood is shooting 35.3 percent from the 3-point line, which is good for any player, let alone your starting center. This opens up the court for the Rockets a lot more than it ever did with Capela at the center position.
Wood is willing roll man that can also score outside the paint
This part is where Wood separates himself from players like Howard and Capela. Both Howard and Capela were great in pick in roll situation. In Howard’s case, he didnt wants to be in pick and roll he wanted to be in the post, a place where he wasn’t at his best. Capela was a willing roller, but teams could pack the paint, which caused issues especially late in games.
Wood, as mentioned in point one, is great in pick and roll or pick and pop because he can finish around the basket and pop to the 3-point line if the defense is sagging in the paint. This makes players like John Wall and Harden’s job much easier running the offense.
Wood is a legitimate second scorer
Great, as Howard was his first year in Houston, you would never mistake Howard for one of the league’s best scorers. A player you could give the ball to and always feel comfortable they could score on any defense. Howard was more of an offensive rebounder and player who beat you with strength and his raw talent
Wood, on the other hand, is a legitimate scoring threat anywhere on the court. He can become a one-person fast break, as mention above, can shoot from the outside or score on the block. John Wall has been a revelation for the Rockets and is a great 2a or 2b, but as the season goes on and years Wood will only get better and more dominant as a secondary, sometimes primary scorer.
Wood is only getting better not year to year but game by game. Wood has been the steal of free agency so far and has shown why the Rockets were so high on him in free agency. If Harden sticks around we may be seeing a special duo forming in Houston in the coming years. Wood Could be the Best Center Harden Has Ever Had.