Timberwolves

Reid Raising Bar for Backup Bigs

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The story of Naz Reid is a fascinating one.

Coming out of high school, Reid was a highly touted unanimous five-star prospect from New Jersey. As a McDonald’s All-American committed to play at LSU, the hype surrounding Reid was certainly there. Despite LSU finishing with a Sweet 16 appearance, Naz Reid didn’t show enough in his lone year at Baton Rouge to be selected in the 2019 NBA Draft.

In recent history, there have been an increased number of one-and-done’s who continue to get undrafted. These players often wash out and their name floats into dark abyss only to never be heard again.

The “Wizard of Naz” made sure that didn’t happen.

The Minnesota Timberwolves were diligent enough to snag Reid as a free agent immediately after going undrafted. Rarely do undrafted players make the roster right off the bat, but he impressed enough in Summer League to sign a multi-year contract with the big club. With the Wolves’ lack of depth at the big-man position behind franchise star Karl-Anthony Towns, Reid was able to scratch and claw his way into the rotation quickly. After averaging 9.0 points on 16.5 minutes per game as a rookie, Naz put up 11.1 points on 19.3 minutes a game this year.

Naz Reid is the prototypical big man NBA teams look for. At 6’9, 264 lbs, he isn’t the biggest player, but he makes up for it in mobility.

This wasn’t always the case, though. Despite always being skilled for his size, his athleticism took a major leap forward. Naz made it clear he wanted to put together his own little dunk show for everyone in attendance.

This radical change was noticeable and paid dividends.

He illustrated growth throughout his entire game and improved his body tremendously. His shooting stroke remained a powerful weapon. His stat line wasn’t too shabby either.

11.1 PPG, 4.6 RPG, 1.0 APG, 1.1 BPG, 52.3 FG% / 35.1 3FG% / 57.6 eFG

The Contract

When Naz Reid signed his three-year, $4.2 million contract, he must have been elated. For any undrafted rookie, this would have been hard to turn down. If you look at what he has done his first two years in the league, all while making an average of $1.4 million, he looks to be one of the best bargains in the NBA.

How many backup bigs in the NBA would you rather have over Naz Reid? You’d be hard pressed to find many. Given that he is still 21 years young, his trajectory remains steady uphill. This allows Minnesota to boast one of the best big man rotation in the NBA.

Opportunity?

The one thing that is holding Reid back from putting up gaudy numbers is opportunity. When you are only playing 19 minutes a game, there is only so much you can do to make an impact. That number is still a little skewed because he started 15 games while Towns was out with injury. When Ryan Saunders ran the show, he played Towns and Reid together sparingly.

Since Chris Finch took over the reins, however, he would pair the two together a little more frequently. Sometimes when players are rolling, you need to find a way to keep them in the game– and Finch did that.

The better Naz becomes, the more minutes he will receive. He may never start for this team long term, but the impact he brings remains valuable.

Naz Reid is unequivocally one of the best values in the NBA.

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