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Profiling the Memphis Grizzlies' Prospects: Christian Wood, UNLV

Christian Wood may pose more questions than answers.

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Christian Wood is a high risk-high reward kind of prospect. While at UNLV he showed flashes of the player he could be.

Wood's measurements at the NBA draft Combine were impressive as he showed off a wingspan of 7'3.25" and a standing reach of 9'3.5". At 6'11 long arms and his quick feet make for an interesting prospect. Unfortunately, at 216 pounds Wood is going to be severely outmatched in the NBA. He struggled mightily in the post offensively and defensively due to his lack of strength. On offense he struggles to establish position and get to the spots he can be most effective.

Stretch fours are becoming and more vital in today's NBA and with some tweaks to his game Wood could become an effective one. He shot only 27.9% from three, but his low percentage is more because of some of the poorest shot selection I've seen from a stretch four. Instead of moving the ball, Wood would take deep threes early in the shot clock. His jumpshot needs some work so it becomes more consistent and his shot selection needs work, but that will come with better coaching.

Shots like these brought his percentage down.

WoodShotSelection

That was not a good shot to say the least. It came with 11 seconds left in the shot clock and a pick he could have utilized to get more open or pass the ball coming his way. Shots like these, or worse ones, were too commonplace in his game. One of the first things he needs to work on after getting drafted is the difference between a good and bad shot. He may be more susceptible to making better decisions after leaving UNLV. The team was a chemistry disaster all season and it led to several problems like this. Once he improves his shot selection I expect his percentages to go up.

Wood's mid-range jumper was much more consistent than his three point shot and UNLV found success by using Wood as the screener in the pick-and-pop. He was deadly, when the guard could get it to him, in this scenario. When in the pick and pop he wasn't forced to make decisions and he could just shoot.

Like this:

WoodPP

Wood isn't great at setting screens due to his small frame, but he can cause problems due to his height. Here Wood's defender didn't account for his jump shooting ability and left him open for a jumper. Wood does a fantastic job of getting in position for the pass and his feet set for his jump shot. This is where he has the most potential to contribute right away in the NBA.

It's not just in the mid-range where he can success in the pick and pop. It can also be used to get him better shots from behind the arc.

Woodpickandpop2

DO MORE OF THIS PLEASE. This is perfect execution. The two opposing defenders double the guard off the pick and Wood slips out to the three point line for an open jumper. An open jumper where he can receive the ball in good position, set his foot and shoot. This is preferred shooting off the dribble with a defender or two flying at him.

He's not just a jump shooter. Wood has found a groove with his nifty off the dribble game. It can be a bit predictable at times (he goes right a majority of the time he dribbles) and leads to turnovers when he gets flustered (2.4 turnovers per game). Despite all of this his length and long stride help him get the job done.

Wood5

He can't exactly bully his way to the basket so he has to use the physical attributes he has to his advantage. That's exactly what happens here. Wood uses his long stride and arms to get to a spot that's comfortable so he can rise and fire over the defender. Being able to go left would be a nice addition to his fluffy touch and the way he strides to the basket. It may lead to fewer turnovers and help him keep an offensive flow going.

The biggest problem with Wood's offense is his propensity to get knocked out of rhythm. His post game is rudimentary and when he does produce enough to draw a double he is thrown off balance and starts making mistakes. When he's thrown off balance in one area of his game his whole game is thrown off. The jump shot starts becoming erratic and his mechanics fall apart, he starts turning the ball over and forcing the issue.

The team that drafts Wood is going to have to start from the ground up on defense. The reason he is where he is on draft boards is because of his defensive potential and not what he actually is on defense. He can't guard in the post because of his lack of strength, doesn't really grasp pick and roll coverage and looks for blocks too much. These are mostly fixable, but he's not playing right away for many if any coaches with the way he plays defense.

That potential is mainly because of the physical attributes Wood possesses and his ability to block shots. Long arms, quick feet and nice jumping ability make him able to play defense at a high level. If he gets stronger and finds the right coach he could become a defensive monster. Those physical attributes combined with fantastic timing netted him 2.7 blocks per game in his final season. If defense were all about blocks Wood would be set for life. Unfortunately there's much more to it.

Here's a way Wood produces on defense as of right now.

WoodDefense

First off, what a terrible decision by that guard. That's a three on one fast break and you're taking it at one of the nation's best shot blocker. He deserved to get that swatted like he did. Wood is quick enough to keep the guard in front of him and force him away from the right side of the basket. His timing is great and he is able to get the block without fouling. He was a consistent shot blocker and could be an effective rim protector in the NBA with time.

The best thing about Wood's defense (besides his shot blocking ability) is his ability to rebound the basketball. He averaged 10 rebounds per game (7.0 defensive and 3.0 offensive).  Rebound is usually a skill that translates well to the NBA, but if he doesn't get stronger he's going to struggle to rebound in the D-League. Having long arms and being quick doesn't matter when you're 220 pounds soaking wet and fighting Zach Randolph or Blake Griffin for a rebound.

The Grizzlies already have three relatively young backup power forwards, but none of them have as high of a ceiling as Wood. With the right coaching he could be better than Jarnell Stokes and JaMychal Green and well let's face it he may already be better than Jon Leuer. He's a rare package of a stretch four that can potentially protect the rim like a center. If the Grizzlies pass on him I could see them looking back and wondering what could have been like they have so many times before.

(Gifs made from videos here and here).