Dallas Mavericks’ Usage Of Christian Wood Remains Bizarre

Jason Kidd, Christian Wood, Dallas Mavericks, NBA News
NBA Analysis Network

The usage of Dallas Mavericks center Christian Wood has been a major topic of discussion around the team recently. Wood was acquired in the NBA offseason from the Houston Rockets to help replace the production that was lost from the frontcourt when Kristaps Porzingis was traded to the Washington Wizards.

When Jalen Brunson departed in free agency, the addition of Wood became that much more important.

Wood was very likely the second-best player on the team behind Luka Doncic. He would provide Doncic the kind of supporting scorer that they were hoping Porzingis would provide, but thus far in his tenure, Wood has not been deployed in that fashion.

Very early in free agency, it was reported that the Mavericks made another addition to their frontcourt, signing JaVale McGee using a large portion of their mid-level exception. Shortly after that, it was announced that he would be the starting center, relegating Wood to the bench.

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It was a move that Wood was not bothered by as he knew that he needed to earn such a role among an established team. Early in the season, he seemed to be taking well to it, as he had a stretch of 16 consecutive points in the season opener against the Phoenix Suns and was not disappointed about being pulled.

“I’m just happy to be a part of this team,” Wood said. “Late in games, it’s just a trust thing. I have to build the trust with this team. I’m on a new team. Once I do that, I think we’ll be good.” 

Recently, however, Wood has seen his minutes late in the game scaled back even more. He wasn’t sure what his role is going to be in the second half of any game and was hoping to get some clarification sooner than later.

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“I mean, I would like some, for sure,” Wood said of his playing time. “Like, I would love to play more. I’ve voiced that several times, but I just play my role.”

What exactly is that role? When head coach Jason Kidd was asked about it, he didn’t offer much of an explanation either.

“It’s a matter of who’s going well. There’s no guarantee. You earn your minutes. Every game is different. This isn’t CYO, where you are allowed to play because of whatever reason. This is a team and Davis and JaVale and Green did a great job for their teammates to give them a chance to win.

“Minute wise, you look at the roster. The roster is heavy. We have a lot of bigs. The beauty of this is Maxi is out. When Maxi is back, someone has to be unselfish. It’s not about minutes or scoring, it’s about winning.”

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With an injury in the frontcourt, you would think that it would be easier to find minutes for Wood, but that has not been the case. The having to earn minutes also seems like a farce as other players, such as McGee, Tim Hardaway Jr. and Reggie Bullock are continuing to get minutes despite their struggles.

However, we could be seeing a change soon. After playing well alongside Doncic at the end of the Mavericks’ most recent game against the Boston Celtics, Kidd hinted at a lineup change coming. Could it be Wood entering the starting lineup?

“I’m not hard and fast about anything,” said Kidd when asked about his stance on Wood starting or not. “[Doncic and Wood] have a great connection. … Look at what they did [in the fourth quarter]. They did a good job against one of the best teams in the league. So hopefully we can grow from this and we can have those two out there in Toronto.

“We’ve talked about changing the starting lineup,” Kidd said when asked about possibly shaking things up. “That’s one of the questions I ask every day to the staff. … We’ll talk about it tomorrow. We’ll talk about it Friday, and we’ll see what happens Saturday.”

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What a wild concept. The Mavericks found more success against a very good Celtics team when they had their two best players, Doncic and Wood, on the court together. This is something we could see more of going forward as a lineup change sounds imminent.

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