Houston Rockets big man Christian Wood has been on a crazy rollercoaster ride over the past few years.
Coming out of UNLV back in 2015, many projected Wood to be a top-15 to top-20 pick. Unfortunately, on the big night, nobody called his name. Not in the top-15. Not in the top-20. Not at all. A photo from that evening tells the whole story.
This is about the saddest picture from an NBA Draft you’ll ever see — Christian Wood realizing he’s going undrafted. pic.twitter.com/be7ttxLBuT
— Gary Parrish (@GaryParrishCBS) June 26, 2015
On that fateful eve in 2015, Wood was so excited to go pro that he rented an event staging area at Caesar’s Palace. Dozens of friends and family members were invited.
It was supposed to be a place of celebration as he reached the pinnacle of his basketball career – instead it turned into the setting for his greatest disappointment.
“He was so excited at first,” said former UNLV coach Dave Rice in an interview with Yaron Weitzman of The Ringer.
Sadly, as his name went uncalled, Wood’s enthusiasm slowly dissipated. That is when the realization of going undrafted slowly sunk in.
“I lost my girlfriend that night, too,” Wood later said.
“I dropped her off at the airport after the draft and never saw her again.”
After Christian Wood went undrafted in 2015 his girlfriend broke up with him that same night…
He deserves every penny from his $41M contract. pic.twitter.com/eQPBWupRqv
— Rob / sad Houston Sports fan (@Hou5ton4L) December 29, 2020
Fortunately, things would eventually take a turn for Wood. After bouncing around various clubs and D-League affiliates for the better part of four years, he was claimed by the New Orleans Pelicans in March 2019. Although he would ultimately be waived by the organization, he briefly had the opportunity to showcase his skill set.
In July 2019, Wood was claimed off waivers by the Detroit Pistons. Over the next year, he would continue to show the glimpses of brilliance that many expected to see when he left UNLV.
Over the subsequent offseason Wood was traded by the Pistons to the Houston Rockets in exchange for Trevor Ariza, the draft rights to Isaiah Stewart, a future second round pick, and cash considerations. In the process, Wood received a three-year, $41 million deal.
While the Rockets are something of a dumpster fire off the court, so far through two games Wood is averaging 27 points and 8 rebounds per outing for Houston.
It remains to be seen how his time with the Rockets will ultimately go, but it’s nice that a player who has endured so much hardship is finally experiencing a streak of good luck.