Chris Wood Flashes Immense Talent in Freshman Year

Chris_Wood

As part of our season wrap-up here at RunRebs.com, we’re going through the Rebels’ roster one by one and assigning grades for each player based on their performance this season.

Today’s entry is Chris Wood, a long, lanky freshman who worked his way into the frontcourt rotation by season’s end.

REBELS REPORT CARD

Player: Chris Wood
Position: Forward
Year: Freshman
Stats: 30 games, 13.0 minutes, 4.5 points, 3.2 rebounds, 1.0 blocks, 41.0 FG%, 22.0 3FG%

Expectations: Wood came into his freshman year as a marquee recruit from Findlay Prep, and the belief was that he would get his feet wet in 2013-14 as a small forward/power forward while adjusting to the college game. Despite his immense talent, the general expectation seemed to be that he would need time to develop physically before making an impact.

Performance: Wood got off to a slow start at UNLV, in large part because he missed most of preseason practice with a broken finger. But once he got up to speed, he began to carve out a bigger role in the frontcourt, eventually ending the season as the first big man off the bench.

He especially began to catch on when the team shifted him from the 3/4 positions to the 4/5 spots. Freed from chasing smaller players around the perimeter, Wood was able to do a better job of maintaining his defensive responsibilities, and his incredible length was put to good use closer to the basket. For the season, Wood allowed just 76.1 points per 100 possessions, the second-best mark on the team. For comparison, Khem Birch allowed 81.4 per 100 possessions, while Roscoe Smith was at 77.2. And Wood finished the year pulling down 18.6 percent of all available defensive rebounds, third-best on the team behind Smith (25.7 percent) and Birch (20.3 percent).

While Wood settled in nicely on the defensive end as the season went along, he never quite got into a groove offensively. Touted as a big man with outside shooting touch, Wood struggled with that aspect of his game, making just 22.0 percent of his 3-point attempts on the season. But his post game proved to be better than advertised, as he used his length to shoot over opponents at an efficient rate around the basket. Wood made 69.0 percent of his shots around the rim, the best mark on the team.

Wood played his best ball at the end of the regular season, averaging 6.4 points, 6.2 rebounds and 1.2 blocks in 22.8 minutes over his final five games. He was less effective in the Mountain West tournament, however, playing just 9.5 minutes and posting 2.0 points and 2.5 rebounds in two games.

Needs Improvement: Wood was so effective around the basket and so cold from 3-point range that it’s hard to believe 42 percent of his shots came from beyond the arc. At one point during Mountain West play, he missed 10 3-pointers in a row over an eight-game span, and he missed his final eight 3-point attempts of the season. For the year, he made 22.0 percent of his 3’s and made 55.2 percent from inside the arc.

To me, that means Wood either has to start making his outside shots at a much, much higher clip, or he has to focus more on generating offense around the basket. Instead of trying to be the next Kevin Durant, he might be better served by striving to be the next LaMarcus Aldridge.

Future Forecast: Wood could be a starter as soon as next year—if Roscoe Smith or Khem Birch leave for the pros, he could slide into either spot as a sophomore and give the Rebels a potential game-changer at both ends of the floor.

The lapses in shot selection shouldn’t damper fans’ enthusiasm about Wood’s future. He’s clearly a very talented player who should have an extremely productive career at UNLV. If he adds strength and continues to refine his game, I believe he could push to be an all-conference selection in 2014-15. Ultimately, he has the potential to be an NBA player.

Final Grade: B
Considering where Wood was at the start of the season, his progress has to be considered a great sign for the program. But this grade isn’t based on potential, it’s based on production. Wood did a solid job as the Rebels’ primary backup big man, which I think merits a B grade.

Previous entries:
Carlos Lopez-Sosa (March 26): D+
Daquan Cook (March 25): B-
Demetris Morant (March 24): C-

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