Grading Christian Wood’s trade to the Mavs: instant reactions

Sure, the NBA Finals are still going on and we’re waiting to see if a new champion will be crowned Thursday night or if we’ll have to wait until Sunday. But that doesn’t mean the other teams aren’t working tirelessly to improve their rosters, acquire assets or start changing what their core looks like. With the NBA Draft more than a week away (June 23), we’ve got out first trade of the 2022 summer.

The Dallas Mavericks and Houston Rockets have agreed to a trade that will send Christian Wood to Dallas in exchange for four role players and the 26th pick in next week’s draft.

The Rockets are moving on from Wood after acquiring him in a big sign-and-trade two offseasons ago. They are acquiring multiple role players to give themselves flexibility for this offseason, and they grab their third first-round pick in next week’s draft. The Mavericks are trying to add a dynamic frontcourt player they hope will mesh instantly with Luka Dončić in a way Kristaps Porzingis never could consistently.

What does this deal mean for both parties? Let’s bust out the red ink and throw some grades on this.

Dallas Mavericks acquire Christian Wood

The Dallas Mavericks will be Wood’s seventh team since debuting in the NBA during the 2015-16 season. But clearly, Mavs executive Nico Harrison respects Wood. Wood is an interesting pickup by the Mavericks. It took him quite a few stops and years to get his footing in the NBA. He’s been a little all over the place, and it wasn’t until his stint with Detroit three seasons ago that he finally started to break through. The Rockets made him a major offseason acquisition in November 2020, and he instantly started putting up stats.

Wood put up a pretty efficient 21.0 points per game (59.1 percent true shooting) and 9.6 rebounds in 41 games in his first season with the Rockets. But that team bailed on trying to win games early on with James Harden getting moved to Brooklyn. Last season, as the Rockets were attempting to play young and learn on the job, Wood’s scoring dropped to 17.9 points per game, but his efficiency (59.5 percent true shooting) remained high, and he grabbed 10.1 rebounds per game.

Wood is a double-double machine. He can give you 20 points each night. But the real question with him is figuring out if that’s coming from a place of winning basketball. The teams he was on were too bad to carry, and asking him to carry a team probably isn’t that fair. He’s not a consistent defender, and his offense is very much about him. We’ve yet to see whether he can elevate the team with his play over an extended period.

Luckily for him in Dallas, he has Dončić to lead the way. The Mavs are absolutely upgrading their frontcourt here. Boban Marjanović is a fan favorite, but he’s not a significant role player. Nobody they’re moving here is someone the rotation can’t live without, or even a player the rotation needed in the first place. Wood can score at the rim and in the middle of the floor, and he can knock down the 3. He’s a career 38.0 percent shooter from downtown on over 700 career attempts.

Wood immediately becomes Dallas’ best big man, but he’s not an anchor for the defense. He has to prove he can fit into what the Mavericks do. If he’s their most significant big man acquisition, it’s easy to see him complementing Dwight Powell or Maxi Kleber. We could also still see the Mavs try to swing for the fences with a trade for someone like Rudy Gobert, but it’s not totally necessary. This is a great test for Wood and Dallas. Luka can make his life easier, and he gives Dončić a legitimate threat in the two-man game for the defense to respect. But Wood has to prove he fits into the team concept, and that his prior numbers weren’t empty calories on a team looking to lose/rebuild. The Mavs need him to prove it too because he’ll be a free agent next summer.

Grade: B+

Houston Rockets acquire Boban Marjanović, Sterling Brown, Trey Burke, Marquese Chriss and 26th pick in 2022 draft

The Houston Rockets dumped Wood before his final season under contract in exchange for essentially the 26th pick in the first round of this draft. That gives the Rockets the third pick, the 17th pick and the 26th pick. Considering how well Rafael Stone did in last year’s draft with a bunch of picks, that has to be quite encouraging for the Rockets and their fans. They expect to get another significant building block next to Jalen Green with Paolo Banchero looking like the projected No. 3 pick in the draft.

From there, if they’re able to draft quality prospects like they did last year with Alperen Sengun, Usman Garuba and Josh Christopher, the rebuilding process will continue to chug along at a great pace. The rest of the players they’ve acquired don’t do much for them here. Marjanović probably isn’t going to be long for this team. They could trade him or waive him. Brown is an interesting re-acquisition after he spent 2020-21 with the Rockets. He could fit in as another wing option. Burke doesn’t move the needle, and Chriss is back in Houston after spending a brief stint there in the 2018-19 season.

This trade is really about acquiring more draft capital. They’ve accomplished that. Wood wasn’t going to make them much better over this next season, and they free up some major minutes for development with Sengun and Garuba needing more time on the court. Maybe they could have done better for themselves than a late first-round pick, but this is a very solid trade for Stone and the Rockets.

Grade: B

(Photo of Christian Wood shooting over Reggie Bullock: Kevin Jairaj / USA Today)

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