Timberwolves Preseason Guide: Naz Reid

Naz Reid is Gersson Rosas’ first lottery ticket. The new president of basketball operations signed the undrafted big man not on what Reid was as a college player but as what he has the potential to become. Standing 6’8.75″ (without shoes), weighing 256 pounds and sporting a 7’3.25″ wingspan, Reid is a big dude who has a very silky jumper for a player of his size. He reminds me of Marresse Speights.

That all puts together the shell of a nice player. But Rosas and the Wolves need Reid to develop. To do that, like most rookies (including Jarrett Culver), Reid needs to work on his body so as to maximize the skill set that is in there. With a body fat percentage of 14%, Reid was the only player at this spring’s pre-Draft combine who measured over 10%. And in the bench press portion of the combine, Reid put up a mere three reps of 185 pounds.

But that’s the point of a lottery ticket, you got work on it and hope the snow globe shakes out well. The other big men who were signed this offseason — Noah Vonleh and Jordan Bell — were signed to one-year deals. Reid, who signed a four-year contract, is inherently a bigger piece of the future. Even though only one season of Reid’s deal is guaranteed, he is someone the Wolves are investing in with the hope that he can be a player who returns that investment through the ways he eventually supplements Karl-Anthony Towns.


Jump Shot Fluidity

The way Reid was used for the Timberwolves in Summer League highlighted his effortless jumper. He was working from above the 3-point arc in dribble-handoff actions, where he was frequently as asked to pop open for looks beyond-the-arc. In a vacuum, the stroke looked like that of a big man who touches the high-30s from 3-point range.

If Reid ever earns a spot in the Wolves rotation, he’s a guy — like Anthony Tolliver last season — who won’t be afraid to let it fly. The majority of his touches will come from out there.

Quarterback Vision

At Summer League, Reid shared with the media that he played quarterback for his high school football team. And after hearing that, I couldn’t help but notice how he applies that head-on-a-swivel approach to distributing when the ball is in his hands. He even kind of hunches down when looking to pass, holding the ball down by his knees; like a QB taking a snap.

If Reid is going to be a multi-dimensional offensive weapon, his distributing abilities — coupled with his jumper — will be the weapons in his arsenal. This is largely informed by the notion that he just doesn’t have much of a back-to-the-basket game in the post. When he’s inside-the-arc, finding cutters and skip passes will be how he positively impacts the offense, not necessarily getting many buckets on his own.

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Post-up Game

There would be times both at LSU and in Summer League where Reid would get up a head of steam and effectively barrel to the rim. In these situations, he weaves in the sheer force of being a 250-pound man with the balletic grace of being able to spin over both his right and left shoulders. He’s one of those ambidextrous drivers who doesn’t seem to lack polish on moves in either direction. But this power and grace fades in the paint. Without that run-up, his post moves give off a deflated feel. (Side note: Reid was dealing with a foot injury in Summer League that he said limited his explosiveness. It will be informative to see him play in the preseason at full-strength.)

How important a back-to-the-basket game is for a modern big man lies in the eyes of the beholder — but certainly carries less value now than it did ten years ago. Without this in his bag, Reid’s coaches will likely be more strategic with his placement on the floor. For now, that’s at the free throw line extended, scanning for cutters, and beyond-the-arc, looking for open catch-and-shoot jumpers.

Agility in Tight Spaces

Even though Reid may not have tested well at the combine, it’s not as if he is a poor athlete for his size; the dude can still get out and move in open spaces and certainly has quick-twitch movements that make him an intriguing athletic prospect. But it is when Reid finds himself without space that he looks physically limited. He doesn’t move his feet well when defending a pick-and-roll and he lacks explosiveness with the ball in his hands if he can’t get a running start into the motion.

If he were to be in an NBA rotation today, Reid would need to be hidden on the defensive end. He’s slow to activate his lateral mobility. And offensively he’s just not the type of big who gives you much in the paint, even if it is coming off of an offensive rebound. He struggles to load up and finish through defenders. Again, his game prefers space, and that’s why you’ll see him gravitating towards the perimeter on offense. He’s in that weird spot that a kid who grew up playing on the perimeter and then got huge lives in. But that can be fine-tuned, and it probably beats the alternative of being a simply paint-bound big man.

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