Rockets center Christian Wood believes he will be ‘max player’

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Though he still has two years left on his current contract, which pays him $41 million over three NBA seasons, Houston Rockets center Christian Wood is already thinking well beyond that.

Only 25 years old and in just his first year as a consistent starter, Wood believes he can be a “max player” in the NBA by the time of his next deal in 2023. Going by the numbers, it doesn’t seem implausible.

Wood tied his career-high with 5 assists on Tuesday versus Minnesota, and he also grabbed 18 rebounds — representing the second-most of his career. His career-high total of 19 rebounds was set on Friday, in the previous game. For the 2020-21 season overall, Wood is now averaging 21.1 points (52.4% FG) and 9.8 rebounds in 32.2 minutes per game.

Here’s what he told reporters postgame on Tuesday:

I just want to show fans that by the time this contract is up, I believe that I’m going to be a max player. I honestly believe that. I just have to go out every game with a chip on my shoulder. I know guys see it, and I just have to carry that on to next season. God willing, with no injuries, I think next season will be even better.

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Wood missed roughly six weeks after spraining his ankle in early February and still limps on it, occasionally. Nonetheless, he’s still producing big numbers, and his individual performances have improved more of late.

With better injury luck and perhaps a superior cast of teammates around him, Houston (15-47) hopes the team’s 2021-22 results will further improve — perhaps to the point where “max player” talk is justified heading into the last season of Wood’s existing contract in 2022-23.

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