Jahlil Okafor sat out. Nerlens Noel sat out. Nik Stauskas sat out. Pierre Jackson and Kendall Marshall and Tony Wroten sat out. So that means today's game had to be about someone else, and given the options, the Sixers' biggest hero being Christian Wood is only a little surprising.
It's preseason, so results are only for bylines (speaking of which, the Sixers lost 94-88), and stats are only kept to be laughed at later. It's the moments that matter. Moments like this:
Wood had more than just this kind of moment - he looked like the most skilled 76er on the floor, not surprising given his background at UNLV. That same background - unquestionable skills, but questionable other things - had him as a late first round draft prospect last season. But the "red flags" repeatedly came up in explanations for him falling down draft boards, eventually into the second round for most mocks. Then on draft night, he wasn't selected.
That stings, going from lottery-potential talent to undrafted. Maybe that lit a spark? Or maybe his natural talent is shining through in a meaningless environment, where few exhibit max effort and his level of coasting is just higher than everyone else's? Who knows. What I do know is that Wood is too talented to let go for the sake of keeping someone who is clearly inferior for the time being.
The Cross (h/t Mike Baumann) finished with 13 points and 10 rebounds in about 20 minutes of game action. Again, those stats are only for bylines. His size and fluidity and looking-like-he-belonged-there is more of a preseason story.
Wood is slender, probably NBA-weak right now. Fine. Play Jerami Grant at the three. Maybe even show Richaun Holmes that spot a bit? Make room. Wood is the player form of a lottery ticket with a big enough payout to make the gamble more than worth it. That's what you can learn from a pointless preseason game where all your team's best players are out. Others get their time to shine. Christian Wood stole the spotlight for the Sixers tonight.
The Knicks won behind Derrick Williams, preseason expert, who scored 21 points, and a solid floor game from Jerian Grant. Former future Sixers are both, though I personally miss neither. Carmelo Anthony also scored 18. The Sixers have four preseason games left before the season open on October 28th in Boston.