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The Emergence of Naz Reid

Most people will assume that just because a team has a record of 4-14 and are at the bottom of the Western Conference that everything must be going bad for them. That is not necessarily the case for the Minnesota Timberwolves who are currently last in the Western Conference and currently have the second-worst record in the NBA. Despite their poor play this season they have had some bright spots with one of the biggest ones being second-year center Naz Reid. 

This season Reid has picked up the slack for All-Star Center Karl-Anthony Towns who has only played in four games this season due to a left wrist dislocation and testing positive for COVID-19. With his absence, it is very hard for the Wolves to duplicate the production of Towns, who is averaging 22 points per game, 12.5 rebounds per game, 4.3 assists per game, and 2.8 blocks per game. 

Reid is not close to putting up those kinds of stats, but he has put up numbers that are adequate enough for an average starting center in the NBA. This season the former LSU Tiger is averaging 12.4 points, 4.8 rebounds 1.2 assists, and 1.6 blocks. He’s also shooting 53.2% from the field and 38.8% from the three-point line. Despite the fact that Reid has been a steady hand at the five spot for the Wolves all season, it has been the last nine games in particular that started to put people on notice. In that span, Reid is averaging an improved 13.6 points, 5.7 rebounds, 1.1 assists, and 2.2 blocks. 

Reid’s rise has been a bit of a surprise, considering that he is only in his second year in the league, and went undrafted in the 2019 draft.  During his rookie season, he showed some signs of promise but was looked at as nothing more than a serviceable backup big man. This season slowly but surely Reid has steadily improved his game. 

What will be interesting to see is how Head Coach Ryan Saunders will work Reid into the rotation. Will he be willing to play Reid at Power Forward with Towns at Center? It may work, even though the NBA is in the midst of a small ball era, where you never see a starting five with all five players playing their natural positions. Reid is only 6’9” which is really the prototypical height to play the four. The concern that some may have with Reid is the fact that he may not be quick enough to guard the modern power forward, but if he loses some weight he should definitely be able to form a good frontcourt partnership with Towns. 

Time will tell if Reid will continue to blossom this season and if the Wolves will be able to get any better. They do have some good young pieces on the team other than Towns and Reid, like D’Angelo Russell, Malik Beasley, and Anthony Edwards. The Wolves have a long hill to climb just to get back to mediocrity at the least. But the good thing for them is that they have some foundational pieces that could help them get back on the right track.

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