How James Harden and Christian Wood fit together with the Rockets

Christian Wood is reportedly headed to the Houston Rockets via a sign-and-trade, but how will he fit next to James Harden?

The Houston Rockets have a lot of upheaval going on, with a new coach, a new GM and their two stars (James Harden and Russell Westbrook) alternating in trade rumors. Any notable additions outside of possible deals involving Harden or Westbrook are limited, but they’ve got one coming. According to James Edwards of The Athletic, the Rockets will acquire Christian Wood from the Detroit Pistons via a sign-and-trade deal that will involve Trevor Ariza.

According to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, Wood will get a three-year, $41 million deal from the Rockets.

Wood had a breakthrough season for the Pistons last season, averaging 13.1 points and 6.3 rebounds per game over 62 games. He stepped into the starting lineup when Andre Drummond was traded to the Cleveland Cavaliers, with an uptick over his final 13 games of the season (22.8 points, 9.9 rebounds and 2.0 assists per game). Going back further, he averaged 19.7 points per game over his final 22 games last season (11 starts).

How does Christian Wood fit alongside James Harden

The Rockets moved to small-ball when they traded Clint Capela to the Atlanta Hawks last season, with good results. The sustainability of it is a big question, which surely spurred the idea of the move to get Wood.

Capela capitalized greatly on the opportunities afforded him around the basket due to the attention Harden draws. He led the league in field goal percentage during the 2017-18 season (.652). In the two seasons on each side of that, he posted a field goal percentage north of 64 percent and was top-5 in the league in that category.

For his career, according to Basketball Reference, Capela has taken 77.6 percent of his shots within three feet of the basket. Another 21.3 percent of his shots have from 3-10 feet out. It’s unclear if he can be a capable outside shooter, as the Rockets just didn’t ask it of him (two 3-point attempts in 334 games).

Wood attempted 42 3-pointers in his first 51 NBA games. Then he took 140 3-pointers in 62 games last season, and made 54 (a solid 38.6 percent). Over the aforementioned final 13-game run, he went 40 percent from beyond the arc.

Wood is a good rebounder and a comparable statistical defensive player to Capela, with a shot profile that fits what Houston likes to do offensively. Over the first meaningful sample of his career last season, 63.1 percent of Woods’ shots game from less than 10 feet out (per NBA.com), with another 28.1 percent of his attempts from outside the arc.

If Harden remains in Houston, Wood looks like a nice fit in the role Capela filled. The one difference, and it’s a significant one, is Wood has the 3-point shot in his arsenal.

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