Christian Wood's Moment Is Here -- And Pistons Need Him To Focus

Off the floor, he has some growing-up to do.

Will Burchfield
February 07, 2020 - 12:31 pm
Christian Wood

© Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

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When the Pistons dealt Andre Drummond to the Cavs on Thursday, the door swung wide open for Christian Wood. 

The 24-year-old, who's already seen his role expand in recent weeks, has a chance to become Detroit's center of the future. His audition will take place over the next two months. 

On the floor, Wood's early reviews have been positive. He flashed in limited action in the first half of the season, and now he's starting to shine. He's averaging 15.2 points over his last nine games, while playing close to 24 minutes per night. It's served as further proof of what he can do with more opportunity. 

In the 12 games this season that he's played at least 23 minutes, Wood has averaged 16.8 points and 6.7 boards. He's a long, mobile center whose skillset fits today's game -- which stands in contrast to the player he's poised to replace. 

There's a reason Wood was garnering interest from teams like the Celtics at the deadline, and there's a reason the Pistons claimed him off waivers last summer. Of course, there's a reason Wood was on waivers in the first place. 

Off the floor, it sounds like he still has some growing-up to do. Asked about the opportunity for Wood moving forward, Pistons senior advisor Ed Stefanski was optimistic ... but noncommittal. 

"We like Christian, he’s worked well. As the coaches said, sometimes he has some issues maybe not wearing a watch and knowing what time it is to get to some places," Stefanski said. "But he’s done a nice job on the floor. I think he’s coming around, and this is his fifth or sixth stop. He's a good young man. His focus has to be on hoops.

"We want to take a longer look at him to decide what we want to do going forward, but he has talent."

It's Wood's fifth stop, to be exact, having been waived four times since entering the NBA with the 76ers in 2015. It seems he tantalizes teams with his talent, and perhaps frustrates them with his, well, adolescence. If Wood has the maturity to handle a bigger load, the time is now to let the Pistons know.

As for that talent, Wood looks like a modern NBA center. He won't dominate the glass like Drummond -- he's just as tall and almost 70 pounds slimmer -- but he boasts a much broader offensive game and the ability to spread the floor. The touch he's shown from three -- 41 percent this season -- meshes well with Dwane Casey's system. 

Drummond was a player Casey was forced to use; Wood can be a player he exploits. 

Center of the future? Let's see if Wood can lay claim to the present.