Where will Naz Reid’s minutes come for Timberwolves?
Wolves acquisition of Rudy Gobert complicates Reid's role
The Timberwolves trailed the Los Angeles Clippers by seven points with 7 minutes, 34 seconds remaining in their play-in game last season when center Karl-Anthony Towns fouled out. That meant, with the season on the line, it was time for Naz Reid to step up.
Reid contributed a big putback bucket to pull Minnesota to within one point with 5 minutes, 30 seconds to play. You know the rest from there: The Wolves closed strong to down Los Angeles and punch their ticket to the NBA playoffs.
And Reid, in his third season, proved himself to be someone you could trust on the floor, even in the biggest of moments.
“A lot of confidence. Just the thought process for me going out there and telling myself that I can play, and then actually being able to play with those guys in those big moments, it helps me a lot,” Reid said. “It just feels like I’m going out there to play basketball, and I feel like I can do it a lot this year.”
It only makes sense to expect progression from the big. The recently-turned 23-year-old has made major strides each season, improving physically and expanding his skillset seemingly every season. He has proven himself to be a quality backup center in this league. Reid said he had a great summer which he dedicated to working on his overall game.
Now the question is: Will he get the opportunity to show that?
The Rudy Gobert trade complicated matters more so for Reid than anyone else. Timberwolves coach Chris Finch has said the plan is always to have at least one of Towns and Gobert on the floor at all times. That doesn’t figure to leave many opportunities for Minnesota’s third center.
Nate Knight barely saw the floor in that role last season. Reid could be slotted into a similar role.
“It’ll be hard to play three bigs, it always is,” Finch admitted. “But we’re trying to get him more reps at the four. He spent all summer really trying to do that.”
Hey, if Towns can play power forward, then why can’t Reid? He can also stretch the floor and move his feet. Reid spent the offseason working on his ability to play — and guard — multiple positions.
“I’m confident in it. With coach, we’ve talked about it. I believe in my abilities and playing those four or five, whatever positions that I’m going to be in,” he said. “I want to be able to play multiple positions. Be able to guard multiple positions and help this team to win in any way, shape or form that I can.”
The work involved 5-on-5 defensive reps — including plenty of work guarding Knight and Jaden McDaniels, who also profile as forms of power forwards — as well as taking opportunities to defend guards on the perimeter. Reid tried to put himself in previously uncomfortable situations to sharpen his abilities and ready himself for any opportunity.
“You’re going to be guarding guys that you haven’t guarded before,” he said, “but I like to bring energy and effort, so I feel as though if I have a lot of energy and a lot of effort and I’m imposing my will, then we should be great.”
Still, even with all that, it does figure to be an uphill for Reid to see consistent action. For one, Minnesota is deep. And the Wolves prioritized Kyle Anderson as a free-agent signing, and Anderson figures to be a staple at the four spot whenever Gobert or Towns are off the court.
“Kyle will be playing some 4, (Taurean Prince) there, and obviously, Jaden can move to the four, as well,” Wolves assistant coach Micah Nori noted. “I think there are 240 minutes, right? You know that 32, 34 or whatever you want to call it a night are going to be taken up by (Gobert, Towns, Anthony Edwards and D’Angelo Russell), if you will. Then you also have Jaden or whoever else starts those starter minutes. Then you throw Naz in the mix and where does he find those minutes?”
That’s the question.
“It’s a nightmare (to plot),” Nori said. “But it’s a great problem to have.”
For the team, for sure. You can never have too much depth. But that may mean Reid’s opportunities are severely reduced. If they are, all he can do is be ready to take advantage of them when they arise.
Whether he plays power forward or merely is the team’s third center, Finch noted, “it gives us great insurance either way.”
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