Does Naz Reid Have A Future In Minnesota?

Photo Credit: Nick Wosika-USA TODAY Sports

For the first time in a long time, the Minnesota Timberwolves don’t have to hit the panic button and get ready to blow the roster up. After making the playoffs for the first time in the Anthony Edwards era, Minnesota’s roster is in a good place. Management should look to make small marginal moves in the offseason instead of the annual summer gut job. It’s a good thing to have some continuity finally, but that doesn’t mean that everyone’s future is set in stone.

This offseason, the Timberwolves have more keepers than question marks, but that doesn’t mean they won’t make moves. Naz Reid‘s future with the team is less stable than people initially thought. The three-year vet from LSU built on his solid first two seasons after going undrafted in 2019. Reid saw his minutes shrink in the six-game first-round series against the Memphis Grizzlies because he struggled with basically everything except shooting threes. The 22-year-old has been nothing but a good, consistently developing backup center for a lousy team. However, now that the Wolves are finding success, it could be high time to upgrade the position.

For what it’s worth, the Timberwolves would be insane not to pick up Reid’s team option for next season. Still, his long-term future is uncertain. Reid is a decent rim protector for his size, but he’s too big to be an effective perimeter defender and too small to dominate the paint. Last offseason, he worked hard to get in the best shape of his career. Reid could do that again, but as an undersized center, things will always be difficult for him in the post. He also needs to improve his rebounding. Naz’s disappointing rebound rate slots neatly between 33-year-old Blake Griffin and a guy nicknamed slow-mo. That’s unacceptable for a young player of Reid’s size and athleticism.

Offense has been his calling card during his first three seasons in the league. Reid is a 34 percent career three-point shooter for a man of his size, and he can exploit a hard closeout with a tight handle and a newfound ability to drive to the basket. However, his jack of all trades, master of none skillset is part of why he got squeezed out of the rotation in the Memphis series.

Reid played just over 10 minutes per game in the five games he appeared in after averaging a touch under 16 during the regular season. Journeyman Greg Monroe passed him over in important bench minutes in the decisive Game 6 and provided the Wolves with a spark in his limited run. Minnesota’s frontcourt of Karl-Anthony Towns, Jarred Vanderbilt, Naz, Taurean Prince, Jaden McDaniels, and Nathan Knight doesn’t exactly scream all-beef team. Therefore, the Wolves could look to upgrade their forwards in the draft or free agency this offseason.

It’s been the roster bugaboo for the last few years, but upgrading the frontcourt needs to be a priority for the Timberwolves. They finished the regular season 21st in rebound rate, with the third-worst defensive rebound rate in the NBA. Ohio State’s do-it-all forward E.J. Liddell‘s name has been floated around for the Wolves at 19. Memphis behemoth Jalen Duren would be a Wolves fan’s wet dream if he slid on draft night. More likely, LSU’s Tari Eason or Duke big-man Mark Williams will be available at 19.

Myles Turner has always been the platonic dream frontcourt addition for the Timberwolves. He could be available because the Indiana Pacers are finally forced to rebuild. But the free-agent market is light on any tangible upgrades to Reid. It’s headlined by players like Kyle Anderson, Mike Muscala, and Jusuf Nurkic.

Reid is young and constantly improving. He has the skills and size that usually grant a player a 10-year NBA career. But he may be stuck in the limbo of being a perfect backup center on a bad team and a fifth big fighting for minutes on a playoff contender. If Reid continues his trajectory, he may command too much money from a struggling team. As a result, the Wolves will not be able to compete for a serviceable big man who doesn’t rebound or defend as well as Jarred Vanderbilt and isn’t as skilled as Karl-Anthony Towns. He also doesn’t have the two-way potential that Jaden McDaniels has, and he can’t shoot threes as well as unrestricted free-agent Taurean Prince.

It’s certainly not time to cut bait on a gifted 22-year-old who can knock down an open three at 6’9”, 264-pounds. But Reid’s days may be numbered in Minnesota if the Wolves continue to ascend and contend in the west on the backs of Anthony Edwards, Towns, D’Angelo Russell, McDaniels, Vanderbilt, Patrick Beverley, and Malik Beasley. Naz Reid is a good player and should enjoy a long career, but he may be best suited for the old Wolves, not the modern version.

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Photo Credit: Nick Wosika-USA TODAY Sports

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