Heading to the summer, the Los Angeles Lakers prioritized running it back with the same core from last season. They made sure to keep the band together before making any additions, and they did thorough research before making a move for any player.

They eventually made a run at Christian Wood. The former Dallas Mavericks big man would split minutes with Jaxson Hayes and Anthony Davis at the four and the five, giving Darvin Ham another big man who could stretch the floor with his offense.

Needless to say, playing behind Anthony Davis means you’re not going to get that many minutes. He’s playing 20.6 minutes a game, and has only made one start this season. Also, the team could rely on Hayes’ rim protection depending on the matchup, so Wood’s role and minutes could vary on a nightly basis.

With that in mind, the former Detroit Pistons standout talked to Dan Woike of the Los Angeles Times, acknowledging that adapting to this lesser role has been challenging but stating that he’s fully committed to doing whatever it takes to help the team.

Wood Is Locked In

“I’m not playing a role I played the last four or five years, which was being a high-usage guy, taking a lot of shots,” Wood said after the loss to the Mavericks. “Playing this role player role, where I’m trying — if the team needs help with rebounds, I have to try and help rebound. And whatever they need to do, I’m there to do. Some nights, they’re going to run plays for me; some nights, they’re not. I just got to be prepared for that.”

For the first time in his career, Wood knows it’s not about him. His numbers don’t matter that much unless they translate to winning basketball and making a positive impact on the court for his team:

Maybe if I had five points, five rebounds and was a plus-15, I think that’s a great night for me,” Wood said. “That would be impacting winning. I’m not putting up 20s and 10s, 30s and 20s, and all this other stuff anymore. I mean, I can when given the opportunity. But this year, I think it’s just more about doing the little things to help out the team.”

Ham Wants Everybody To Chip In

The Lakers entered the season fresh off a failed trip to the Western Conference Finals. They’re thirsty for revenge and looking forward to getting back to the NBA Finals, and that’s going to take a collective effort. Egos don’t matter anymore in Los Angeles:

“It’s a contrast between playing or producing at a high level for your individual self or playing and producing at a high level for your team,”Coach Darvin Ham told the media. “A lot of guys who are not mentally focused so much on the unit as opposed to being focused on themselves, they fall into that trap of outside noise. And people comparing what they did last year in the situation vs. what they’re doing in a situation this year.”

The Lakers may not be as talented as they were in the past, but they do have scrappy and team-first role players who’ll put their bodies on the line on every possession to help the team. They still need more star power to match up with other powerhouses in the Western Conference, but at least they have the right mindset.

SURVEY Should Wood get more minutes?

Should Wood get more minutes?

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