Christian Wood would be a terrific pick-up for the Denver Nuggets this offseason.
Imagine, just for a second, what the reaction would be to the Denver Nuggets signing free agent power forward Christian Wood this offseason and him joining a frontcourt that includes Will Barton, Jerami Grant, Michael Porter Jr., Bol Bol and Nikola Jokic.
Wood, who averaged 13.1 points, 6.3 rebounds and 0.9 blocks in 21.4 minutes per game last season on a true shooting percentage of 65.9.
The same four-year pro that averaged 21.9 points, 9.4 rebounds, 2.3 assists, 0.8 steals and 0.8 blocks per game as a starter for the Detroit Pistons in 2019-20 (in 12 games) after averaging 16.9 points, 7.9 rebounds, 1.3 blocks and 0.9 steals per game in 2018-19 while playing for the New Orleans Pelicans.
Really, what makes the idea of signing Wood so enticing is the versatility that will be found in the frontcourt and the variety of lineups that the Nuggets could deploy because of it.
Each player can play at least two positions.
Barton, a playmaker who excels at creating shots off the dribble, is a swingman that can play small forward or slide up to the shooting guard position. Grant, their jack-of-all-trades, is a combo forward with experience as a small-ball center. Porter, a deadeye shooter and putback machine, is a combo forward with the physical tools to be a small-ball center as well. Bol, a well-rounded and highly-skilled big man, has played all three frontcourt positions. Jokic, the Nuggets’ do-it-all superstar who is the fulcrum of the offense, is traditionally a center but has played power forward in certain lineups.
Meanwhile, Wood is a nominal power forward who has played substantial minutes at center. He can defend any frontcourt position, alter shots around the rim, show off his athleticism as a rim-runner and stretch the floor.
*An in-depth review of what Wood does well, published by NBA.com’s Scott Rafferty, can be found here*
Where Wood fits in Denver
As Jokic is the only frontcourt player that’s guaranteed a starting a role next season, that gives Denver a better chance of properly building around his strengths and weaknesses. Ideally, you would have the best combination of athleticism, shooting and basketball IQ that you can find around Jokic to take advantage of his playmaking ability and mask his lack of quickness and vertical explosion as much as possible.
The forwards with the best combination of physical tools, perimeter precision and court awareness are arguably Bol and Wood but that would require Wood to start at small forward.
Two alternatives to this pairing are Grant and Wood, with Wood starting at power forward, and Barton and Grant (with Grant starting at power forward).
However, the idea of ‘tall-ball’ — a lineup that doesn’t sacrifice size to enhance their collective athleticism and shooting — is one that should gain more traction as the league rediscovers the importance and credibility of lineups with big men that have traditional size.
With that in mind, starting the 6’5″ Barton at shooting guard will allow them to have the 6’8″ Grant, 6’10” Wood and 7’0″ Jokic in the froncourt. Behind Wood and Jokic would be the 6’10” Porter and the 7’2″ Bol, with Porter bound to play minutes beside Wood and Bol able to see minutes alongside Jokic.
The Nuggets would only be able to offer Wood the mid-level exception, which is valued at just over $9 million. However, if Wood accepts the offer, it could give Denver the most dangerous frontcourt in the entire NBA.