Brooklyn Nets: Christian Wood definitely worth a waiver claim

Brooklyn Nets Christian Wood (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
Brooklyn Nets Christian Wood (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images) /

Christian Wood, a 23-year-old big man with potential, was waived by the Milwaukee Bucks on Monday and the Brooklyn Nets would be wise to make a claim.

Christian Wood lost the numbers game on Monday, waived by the Milwaukee Bucks when the would-be title contender needed a roster spot for some backcourt help and waived the 23-year-old forward who has dominated in the NBA G League this season. The Brooklyn Nets would be wise to take a long look at the 6-foot-10 power forward.

It’s been a winding road to the NBA for Wood, who went undrafted in 2015 after leaving UNLV following his sophomore season after being initially projected as a first-round talent.

Wood, then 19, did not impress in pre-draft workouts and instead became an unwitting poster child for the dangers of declaring for the draft too soon when an image snapped of him realizing he was not going to be selected went viral on social media.

Wood was waived because the Bucks have a crisis in the backcourt, per Matt Velazquez of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Malcolm Brogdon, Donte DiVincenzo and Sterling Brown are all out for Milwaukee, with George Hill still on a minutes restriction after returning from an adductor strain.

In order to sign Tim Frazier — who lost a training camp battle to Wood for the final spot on Milwaukee’s 15-man roster entering the season — the Bucks had to part ways with Wood.

Teams looking to claim Wood off waivers would assume the remainder of his contract, a veteran’s minimum deal that includes a non-guaranteed year in 2019-20 for $1.65 million that becomes 50 percent guaranteed if Wood is on the opening-night roster, per Bobby Marks of ESPN.

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If the Nets submit a waiver claim on Wood, they would have to be hoping none of the teams behind them in the current standings do the same. Much like the draft order, waiver claims are prioritized in inverted order of win-loss record.

At .500 (36-36), the Nets are right at the mid-point of the league — 15th — in terms of winning percentage and thus have half the league ahead of them in order of priority for Wood.

Wood would add needed size to the 4 spot, even as he still needs to develop more strength and mass at 6-foot-10 and just 214 pounds.

He has seen some NBA playing time in three of his four professional seasons, including 13 games with the Bucks this season during which he averaged 2.8 points and 1.5 rebounds in 4.8 minutes per game, shooting 48 percent overall and going 3-for-5 from 3-point range.

Wood spend most of his time this season with Milwaukee’s G-League affiliate, the Wisconsin Herd, where he was dominant in 28 games, putting up 29.3 points, 14.1 rebounds, 2.4 assists, 2.2 blocks and 1.1 steals in 35.3 minutes per game, shooting 55.9 percent overall and 26.5 percent on 3.5 deep attempts per game.

If you want to track Wood’s growth, it’s there in his G-League numbers. Splitting his time between the Philadelphia 76ers and their Delaware affiliate as an undrafted free agent in 2015-16, Wood averaged 17.3 points, 9.4 rebounds and 1.1 blocks in 28.8 minutes a night while shooting 52.9 percent overall and 25.3 percent on 2.7 long-range attempts per game.

He was let go by the 76ers in January 2016 when Philadelphia brought in veteran Elton Brand before re-signing with the Sixers in March 2016.

He spent 2016-17 bouncing between the Charlotte Hornets and their G-League affiliate in Greensboro, improving to 19.6 points, 10.0 rebounds and 2.6 blocks in 30.0 minutes per game on 50.6 percent overall shooting while hitting 23.5 percent on 2.8 3-point tries a game.

Wood was set to play in China in 2017-18, but instead returned to the U.S. and to Delaware in the G-League, where he earned All-G-League second team honors while averaging 23.3 points, 10.4 rebounds, 2.2 assists, 1.8 blocks and 1.1 steals in 33.1 minutes a night, shooting 54.1 percent overall and 32.1 percent on 3.6 attempts a game from behind the arc.

His NBA experience has been spotty — 43 games over three seasons with three different teams — and he posted his career-highs in scoring and rebounding as a rookie with Philadelphia, scoring 15 points with eight rebounds in 19 minutes of a lopsided loss on the road to the Golden State Warriors on Nov. 13, 2015.

Wood doesn’t check all the boxes Brooklyn might want in a stretch 4 — his 3-point shooting is still very inconsistent — and his defense can suffer because of his frail frame. But he’s still young — he won’t be 24 until late September — and would provide another shot-blocker for the Nets.

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Because he was under contract after the March 1 waiver deadline, Wood would not be eligible to play in the postseason this year, but as a developmental project — give that Brooklyn has an open roster spot — Wood could very well be worth a long look at little cost and almost no risk.