The NBA Draft is less than a month away, and we couldn’t be more excited about it!
60 of the best young basketball players in the world will hear their name called, as they finally realize their dreams of being drafted to the NBA. At the same time, however, players will see their dreams come to an end as they fail to walk across the stage to shake the commissioner’s hand.
With a rich talent pool this season, there are bound to be players who had great collegiate careers that don’t get drafted. It doesn’t mean they won’t ever play in the NBA, they will just have to take a detour.
This is the time of year when people try to find out as much information about players as they possibly can, so they can be familiar with whomever their favourite NBA team selects on draft day.
Yes, there will be situations like Toronto last season, when they selected Bruno Caboclo, where even the commentators were stunned at the selection. For the most part, the players selected have been household names in college, or on the international stage.
Over the course of the next few weeks leading up to the draft, we will post a new draft preview each day that highlights a player who has a great chance to be drafted. One thing that we are doing different than other sites is not focusing on players in the first round. These players are constantly covered, and you can find information on them all over the place.
We will look at players who don’t get as much attention as they deserve, as we try to shine the light on some underrated talents in the NBA Draft. Today’s feature: Christian Wood, UNLV.
Christian Wood – UNLV Runnin’ Rebels
Weight: 216 pounds
Birthplace: Palmdale, CA
2014-15 Stats: 15.7 ppg, 10.0 rpg, 2.7 bpg
The 2014-15 edition of the UNLV Rebels had the look of a team that was poised for an NCAA Tournament appearance. With the likes of San Francisco-transfer guard Cody Doolin, sophomore Christian Wood, and incoming freshmen Goodluck Okonoboh and Rashad Vaughn on the roster, there was a ton of optimism around the Rebels.
Unfortunately, they were unable to put together much of anything in terms of on-court success. When Vaughn went down with a season-ending knee injury, it was the cherry on top of a dismal season in Vegas for the Rebels.
Sophomore power forward Christian Wood was a shining light for the Rebels a season ago, putting together a double-double average over the course of the year. He quickly emerged as one of the country’s best defenders in the paint, and showed that he was a must-see talent. In “Sin City”, and amidst all of the bright lights down Las Vegas Blvd., Wood was able to shine bright even on the Rebels’ darkest days.
Wood opted to head to the NBA after only two seasons at the NCAA level, to the surprise of very few people. What does Wood bring to the table at the next level? We take a look at his strengths and weaknesses below.
The main thing that Wood is known for is his impactful presence on the defensive end of the floor. Whether it be in terms of rebounding or shot blocking, Wood is a menace in the paint. He’s long and athletic, which creates havoc for his opposition. Equipped with a 7’3” wingspan, the 6’11” Wood is able to disrupt shots in the paint, and corral rebounds that appear to be out of his reach. Last season, he averaged 10.0 rebounds and 2.7 blocks per contest for the Rebels. Alongside Okonoboh, Wood gave the Rebels one of the more underrated front courts in the NCAA.
Another facet of Wood’s game that makes him an incredible talent is his leaping ability. He has the ability to finish at the rim, thanks to his incredible hops in the paint. Wood also runs the floor well for a big man, which helps to create more opportunities on the offensive end for him, including fast breaks and alley-oops at the rim.
With his ability to finish at the rim and his defensive presence, Wood has all of the tools and the talent level to be a lottery selection. With his strengths come weaknesses, some of which are holding him back from being a lottery selection.
Too often over the course of his two years at UNLV, Wood was pictured taking poor shots from all over the floor. Despite posting a field goal percentage of 49.7% in 2014-15, his long distance shooting was suspect at best. He finishes well in the paint, but it’s his jumper that needs some work and refining. Wood shot just 28.4% from three point range last season, which is indicative of his poor shooting on the offensive end. If he can improve on his shooting, and make smarter decisions during the flow of the game, then Wood will be a steal at the end of the first round.
Another knock on Wood is his lack of physical strength. Despite standing at 6’11”, he only weighs in at 216 pounds. Physically, he’s not as big as other forwards in this draft class, and doesn’t have the strength to battle in the paint with opposing big men. He’s the type of player who’s more suited to face the basket, as opposed to backing down defenders with his strength. If he can add another 15 pounds of muscle in the offseason, he will add another element to his already impressive game.
As we have touched on earlier, Christian Wood has all the potential and talent to be a lottery selection in the draft. I feel that he could have benefitted from staying in school another season, to develop as a more complete player and add the necessary strength to become a lottery selection.
When it’s all said and done, I see Christian Wood getting selected in the 25 – 35 range. His pre-draft workouts will go a long way in determining whether or not the native of Palmdale, CA is a first-round selection, or a second-round draft choice.