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Christian Wood says this season has been unlike any other in his career

Christian Wood played for seven teams before donning the Lakers jersey and only this year does he feel his role and style of play have significantly changed.

Sacramento Kings v Los Angeles Lakers Photo by Adam Pantozzi/NBAE via Getty Images

During the offseason, the Lakers determinedly courted Christian Wood to take his talents to Los Angeles. It may have taken until the end of the summer and months of back and forth between both parties but the big man eventually inked a minimum deal for two years. It was considered a bold move by Wood for a couple of reasons.

For one, not only did the 28-year-old take a significant pay cut after earning $14.3 million with the Dallas Mavericks last season, but he also decided to sign with a championship contender. Being part of a team with title aspirations while backing up a superstar like Anthony Davis is an experience Wood has never had throughout his nine-year career, which is why he feels this season has been unlike any other.

“Very different. I think this year, for me, has been different than any other team I’ve been on. I’m playing a different role than I’ve ever played before,” Wood said postgame after putting up 16 points and eight rebounds in the Lakers’ victory against the Utah Jazz. “But the coaches see that I’m trying to do the little things whether it’s scoring, whether it’s not scoring, whether it’s rebounding or affecting the game in other ways, I try to be a positive on the floor.”

The undrafted forward played for seven teams prior to donning the purple and gold armor and it’s only this year that he feels that his role and style of play have significantly changed. So far this season, Wood is averaging 7.1 points and 5.9 rebounds off the bench in 20.4 minutes per game, his lowest numbers since his sophomore year. His usage rate is down to 14.9%, which is the lowest in his career.

Wood is no longer one of his team’s primary sources on offense but that doesn’t mean the expectations and aspirations for him are less. Instead, the versatile 6’11 forward is being tasked by Darvin Ham to impact the game in ways that help this Lakers team win.

Whether that’s focusing more on defense, crashing the glass for rebounds, spacing the floor, providing size and length in the front court, allowing the Lakers to play two or even three bigs, making sure the non-AD minutes don’t turn into a disaster or simply letting Davis slide into the position he plays best in, Wood is contributing in ways he’s never done before.

There have already been instances this season where Wood’s impact has led to wins. The one that stands out the most so far was the superb defense he provided in the fourth quarter in Lakers first victory against the Phoenix Suns last October. Or that time when he grabbed 11 rebounds and was part of the three-big lineup that pivoted the game and led the Lakers to a win versus the Los Angeles Clippers.

These are just three examples but Wood has proven so far this season that he’s very much capable of thriving in his new role. His role and situation on this Lakers team may be a tad different compared to what he was accustomed to in the past but at least this time, Wood has the opportunity to showcase that he can contribute to winning basketball.

You can follow Nicole on Twitter at @nicoleganglani

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