One of the last players to be placed on the Sixers training camp roster might just be the last man to make the cuts when the Sixers trim their roster down to 15 in the coming weeks – power forward Christian Wood.
With both Jahlil Okafor (knee) and Nerlens Noel (back, knee) both missing Monday night’s preseason game against the Knicks due to minor injuries, Wood shined in the team’s narrow 94-88 defeat.
In 20 minutes, Wood notched a double-double with 13 points and 10 rebounds, hitting 5-of-10 from the floor which included an impressive dunk and three-pointer.
“I’m trying to make the team, so I’m doing whatever I can,” Wood said after Monday’s loss. “I’m hustling, going for loose balls and doing anything I can to try and make the team.”
Wood went undrafted in the 2015 NBA draft, despite putting up impressive numbers in his two years spent at UNLV. He averaged 15.7 points and 10.0 rebounds per game while shooting 49.7 percent from the field, but many questions about his work ethic led to his draft stock falling.
“You saw him bother people at the rim,” coach Brett Brown said. “You have to walk out of the gym looking at that kid and be impressed – especially at his age.”
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At just 20, there’s limitless potential for Wood to grow in Philadelphia, but several front-court players still stand in his way of making the roster.
The locks to make the team are Okafor, Noel and Joel Embiid (who will miss the 2015-16 season due to foot surgery). Jerami Grant and Richaun Holmes look to be locks as well, as they’re locked into multi-year deals through at least the 2016-17 season.
That leaves Carl Landry, acquired in a deal with the Kings in the offseason for Nik Stauskas, as well as Furkan Aldemir as Wood’s competition.
Landry hasn’t played a game for the Sixers since the trade, but his salary of over $13 million owed between the next two seasons can be a valuable asset in matching salaries in a future trade. Aldemir has had a very disappointing preseason so far. He’s averaging just 2.5 points, 4 rebounds and a whopping 3.3 fouls per game in 16.5 minutes per game.
Wood has a case to make the cut over either of them as things currently stand, but he still has a lot of work ahead him.
“Philly gives a lot of opportunity to young guys,” Wood said. “I thought they would give me a chance to show what I can do on the court, so it’s great.”
The Sixers will play the Wizards next on Friday at home. The game will air at 7 p.m. on CSN.