Money aside, seeing how Christian Wood and Luka Donjic have played together and interacted on the pitch in the past months should be reason enough to convince anyone that extending Wood is the right decision. Dallas Mavericks.
The relationship the two have is fascinating, especially considering how little they played together and how little they knew each other. Next to Dwight Powell, who has played with Luca since his early days in the NBA, Luca’s connection with Wood is probably the best we’ve seen with a big guy in this league.
But there is another aspect to this that deserves attention. We know that not all good players play well together or make each other better. We saw that with Kristaps Porcinigis, who was Trade in Washington Wizards Last year after 3 years in Dallas. Porzingis was supposed to come to Dallas as the second star after Luca, but injuries, inconsistent play, and lack of chemistry with Luca prevented that from happening.
Porzingis wasn’t really happy in Dallas, as the two didn’t play well together consistently and it seemed like Porzingis and Luka were missing something. They were not friendly with each other, they were not able to be what the other and the team needed.
I’ve been thinking about it since Kirk Henderson, our editor here at Mavs Moneyball, mentioned it in a Postgame podcast newly.
Earlier this month, there was a video of Luca yelling at someone during a pause on Twitter, in which Luca appeared very upset, clearly frustrated with the situation and took out his anger at Christian Wood, gesturing at him as he sat on the bench. Wood remained calm and collected, even as he looked the other way.
As much as many saw that as a painful sign that the Dallas Mavericks star is unhappy playing with the current roster, it was also a sign of something else.
During the post-match press conference, Luka explained how he truly appreciates a certain quality in Wood. “Sometimes it’s hard to be with me on the field probably. I just want to win. But he appreciates that, he never gets angry.”
Luka Doncic on his relationship with Christian Wood: “He doesn’t get mad at me when I shout at him sometimes, which I appreciate. … Sometimes it’s hard to be with me on the field probably. I just want to win. He appreciates that, he never gets angry.. .It works great.” pic.twitter.com/uAOIy6vnJB
– GrantAfseth January 1, 2023
this is important. Not just because Luka speaks positively about Wood to the media (he’s done so many times, praising both his offense and defense lately), but because that kind of thing matters. It matters to Luca that Wood can handle this situation without getting offended and carry on, and it matters to the team dynamic that Wood can be a lightning rod, when things get tense.
Luca said it himself, and if my memory serves me correctly, Porzingis said something similar. It’s not always easy to play with Luca. With that in mind, the fact that Wood seems to be able to handle Luka’s occasional antics is probably a bigger deal than he first thought.
It is rare to be able to ignore some of Luka’s behavior and have enough confidence in yourself to absorb this type of behavior. It takes trust and belief that the other person respects you, despite their current actions.
That matters in basketball and it matters when you’re playing with a 23-year-old generational talent, who wears her emotions on her sleeve and has a little more maturity when it comes to this specific issue.
This may be the best shot Luca will have in a long time to play with another scorer, who not only shares a connection with him on the ground but can also carry the burden of being a lightning rod and a steady force when kicking off. gets tough.