Some in the New York Knicks organization are high on Detroit Pistons big man Christian Wood. Here’s why that matters.
The NBA season may be in a holding pattern, but the New York Knicks have a busy offseason ahead. Whenever free agency starts, the Knicks will have ample cap space to play with on the open market. According to Ian Begley of SNY, Detroit Pistons big man Christian Wood is on the Knicks’ radar.
“While it’s way too early to know who they’ll target, it’s worth noting that some in the Knicks’ front office are enamored with Detroit’s Christian Wood,” wrote Begley.
Wood is averaging 13.1 points and 6.3 rebounds in his first full season with Detroit. However, since entering the starting lineup, Wood’s taken his game to the next level. The 24-year-old is averaging 22.8 points and 9.9 rebounds per contest over his last 13 games, 11 of which were starts.
Another intriguing aspect of Wood’s game is his ability to stretch the floor. He’s shooting 38.6% on 2.3 three-point attempts per game which could be an especially useful skill considering the Knicks are woeful from beyond the arc.
On the current roster, Damyean Dotson leads the team in three-point shooting (36.2%) and only four players shoot above 33.3% from distance. The average NBA three-point percentage in 2019-20 is 35.7 percent. Even the Knicks’ best three-point shooter is only marginally better than average.
The Pistons still have Wood’s Early Bird rights, making it more difficult for the Knicks to sign the dynamic big man. Still, it’s still possible.
What would the frontcourt look like with Wood?
Wood’s recent breakout is due, in part, to the fact that he’s playing more at the five. According to Basketball-Reference, Wood is playing 53% of his minutes at center this season and he’s seen increased minutes at the position after the Pistons traded Andre Drummond.
With that said, Wood is still a flexible option who can play the four or the five. At 6-foot-10 and with his ability to shoot the ball, he can hold his own at either spot.
Mitchell Robinson isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. Rightfully so, the Knicks are extremely high on the high-flying big man. He’s one of the most dangerous lob threats in the league and he’s already an elite rim protector. If the Knicks sign Wood, Robinson’s role wouldn’t suffer.
The rest of the frontcourt is a mystery. Julius Randle was the team’s big-ticket signing after whiffing on the max-level guys in 2019 free agency. However, he’s on a team-friendly deal and doesn’t seem to be off-limits in a trade. Still, it’s hard to see the Knicks moving on from Randle after one season.
Bobby Portis is scheduled to make $15.7 million next season if the Knicks pick up his option. He’s been a reliable scorer off the bench with a knack for heating up quickly. But he’ll likely be looking for a new home for next season.
Taj Gibson, on the other hand, is due to make $10 million next year should the Knicks pick up their team option. Perhaps that’s a little high for an aging center who plays about 15 minutes per game. But Gibson has shown he can be an effective mentor for the young guys on the team.
It couldn’t hurt to keep him on in that same role. To be clear, Robinson should eventually become a regular in the starting lineup while Gibson is more of a “break glass in case of emergency” type of guy.
In this future scenario, Kevin Knox would also see some time at power forward. The second-year man out of Kentucky still has a long way to go with his defense, but in theory, he should be a combo forward who can flex seamlessly between the three and the four.
The Knicks stocked up on power forwards in 2019 and that’s severely limited Knox’s time at the position. He went from playing power forward 44% of the time during his rookie year to just 19% during his sophomore season.
A four-man rotation consisting of Robinson, Randle, Wood, and Knox—with Gibson in case of emergency—sounds like a solid group to build around.