Five years ago, Christian Wood’s life forever changed — just not in the way he expected.
Then a 19-year-old sophomore out of UNLV, Wood anticipated hearing his name announced during the 2015 NBA Draft, and later celebrating with loved ones at Caesar’s Palace. All did not go according to Wood’s plan, both personally and professionally.
“I lost my girlfriend that night, too,” Wood said in an interview with The Ringer. “I dropped her off at the airport after the draft and never saw her again.”
Expected to be a late first-round pick, Wood’s stock tumbled amid chatter about his work ethic. He eventually joined the Houston Rockets for the summer league in 2015, before signing with the Philadelphia 76ers that September.
In the years that followed, Wood became an NBA journeyman and even signed with the Chinese Basketball Association in 2017. He was later waived by the Fujian Sturgeons.
“To get cut from a team in China because they tell me I wasn’t good enough—that really tested me. That was the breaking point,” Wood said.
Wood, now 25, has since evolved into a rising star. After bouncing around and playing limited minutes for the Hornets, Pelicans and Bucks, Wood etched out a role with the Pistons last season. Wood averaged 13.1 points and 6.3 rebounds in 62 games for Detroit.
Then this offseason, he signed a three-year, $41 million contract with the Houston Rockets and in two games he is averaging 27 points and eight rebounds.
“I still haven’t reached my goal. I want to be an All-Star. I feel like I can be one of the top players in the league,” Wood said.
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