The Miami Heat Are Better Off Dropping Their Rumored Pursuit of Christian Wood

The Miami Heat have withstood injuries en route to grabbing the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference. Now that Bam Adebayo and Jimmy Butler are back in the fold, the Heat look ready to raise the temperature. They also appear hungry to go big-game hunting ahead of the Feb. 10 NBA trade deadline.

Miami might hope to engage with the Houston Rockets and solidify the frontcourt with a trade for Christian Wood. However, Wood’s defensive deficiencies hardly suit the Heat, and the Rockets are likely to demand a haul before they consider moving him.

The Heat reportedly have interest in trading for Christian Wood

The Heat have plenty of backcourt and wing players capable of putting the ball in the hoop, with Jimmy Butler and Kyle Lowry serving as primary playmakers and Tyler Herro giving Miami a strong scoring punch off the bench.

But, outside of Adebayo, the Heat don’t have many bigs who can create for themselves.

P.J. Tucker is primarily a spot-up shooter who hunts second-chance opportunities, and he’s undersized as it is. Dewayne Dedmon and Omer Yurtseven can rebound, but they don’t generate their own offense.

Alas, Miami seems keen on adding a frontcourt player who can provide value as a scorer before the NBA trade deadline.

Kelly Iko of The Athletic reported the Heat are among the more “persistent” teams inquiring about Houston Rockets center Christian Wood. The 26-year-old is in the second year of a three-year contract he signed with Houston in the fall of 2020, and he has the offensive skill set Miami might welcome.

Wood is averaging 17.5 points and 10.3 rebounds. He’s more than comfortable spacing the floor, shooting nearly 37% on 4.9 attempts per contest in his 1.5 seasons with the Rockets. The Long Beach native is a solid pick-and-pop threat, but he also poses dangers as a rim-roller with his athleticism and readily attacks closeouts off the dribble.

Indeed, Wood is one of the most offensively gifted centers in basketball, and he’s also improved his passing. That said, defense is a significant area of concern.

Acquiring Wood could nuke Miami’s team defense

Houston Rockets center Christian Wood runs down the floor during an NBA game against the Miami Heat in April 2021
Christian Wood reacts during a game against the Miami Heat on April 19, 2021 | Michael Reaves/Getty Images

Miami set a standard of hyper-aggressive and harassing defense early in the season. Christian Wood does not fit that mold whatsoever.

Wood’s defense has left much to be desired in recent seasons. It’s not that he doesn’t have the ability to switch and guard on the perimeter or assert his will inside. But the instincts aren’t always present.

The UNLV product often finds himself caught in empty space playing off the ball or when involved in pick-and-roll. He has a hard time committing on hedges and doesn’t help guards much at the point of attack. Wood’s upside as a rim protector also suffers from poor timing and movement. He shouldn’t struggle to stay in front of ball-handlers or hold his own on switches, but that’s exactly what tends to happen.

It’s tempting to add a guy like Wood because of how he’d complement Bam Adebayo offensively. Maybe the Heat believe he will excel in their defensive system. Still, there’s no reason to pay a premium for such an unreliable individual defender, especially when Miami could use help in that capacity.

The Heat are better off looking elsewhere

The Heat do not need to trade for Christian Wood.

As Iko reported, the Rockets want a “blow-me-away offer” just to consider moving the young center before the Feb. 10 NBA trade deadline. It’s likely not worth it for Miami to present Houston with such an offer, not when Wood can probably only marginally improve an offense that already ranks third in offensive rating.

Instead, the Heat should pursue wing defenders.

Markieff Morris has yet to take the court following a blindside at the hands of Nikola Jokic that set off a social media war between brothers. Miami likely hopes Victor Oladipo returns shortly. But while he’s certainly a figure of intrigue, the Heat are undoubtedly cognizant of his recent health issues and how it could limit his effectiveness.

Those two factors, plus Tyler Herro and Duncan Robinson being liabilities on the defensive end, should motivate the Heat to add a switchable, active wing defender who can force turnovers and space the floor.

It might seem tempting for the Heat to make a splash before the trade deadline, but that’s hardly necessary for one of the most balanced teams in basketball. Miami is better off avoiding Wood and making smaller upgrades for the playoff push.

Stats courtesy of Basketball Reference.

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