Timberwolves

Naz Reid Is the People’s Superstar

Photo Credit: Rob Gray-USA TODAY Sports

On Saturday, Jake’s Graphs made a compelling case that Naz Reid is the ideal man. He’s loved by all, has a killer crossover, and is hard-working. Reid is also confident, extremely athletic, and highly skilled. His nickname is his name.

“He’s been an incredible story here,” Chris Finch said after Friday’s 104-91 win over the Cleveland Cavaliers. “The way he’s, from Day 1, changed his body, kept growing his game, plays with so much confidence and energy. Whether he starts or comes off the bench, teammates love him.”

Not many role players get their own night. But the Minnesota Timberwolves gave everyone who attended Friday’s game Naz Reid beach towels. Reid had 18 points in 26 minutes, and the crowd erupted every time he scored. That’s become common at the Target Center, only this time they held towels with his name on them.

“It was amazing,” Reid said. “I mean, that’s something that you dream about, definitely at this level in the NBA. That’s love. There’s so much support. Everybody has seen how much I’ve worked since Day 1 until now. More to come.”

Reid has a unique common man appeal. He became famous in New York City as part of the Jelly Fam and was a five-star recruit out of his New Jersey high school. However, after Reid went undrafted out of LSU in 2019, he transformed his body to become an impact player in the NBA. Reid is playing on a $42 million extension but shops at thrift stores. He says he almost always makes his first shot because he’s excited to play and wants to make an immediate impact.

Few undrafted players make an impact in the NBA. John Starks did with the New York Knicks in the ‘90s, and Fred VanVleet has with the Toronto Raptors and Houston Rockets. There are also beloved sixth-man or bench players, like Jamal Crawford, in NBA history. However, few players with bench roles have become cult heroes like Reid.

There’s a “Honk if you love Naz Reid” sign outside Parkway Pizza in northeast Minneapolis. Jeopardy contestant Anji Nyquist revealed that she named her cat Naz Reid while on the show. Wolves fans will greet each other by saying “Naz Reid.” Fans immediately fell in love with Reid long before he became a vital part of Minnesota’s bench unit.

“For me, it’s like, how long it’s been going on,” said Reid. “People notice it now. But…since my rookie year, it’s really been a thing. So like, it’s for me, it’s like how long it’s been going on. That stuff is love. It’s something you dream about.”

Anthony Edwards is Minnesota’s franchise player and the face of the league. He drives winning for the Timberwolves, and fans react to his clutch scoring and stout defense. Many fans also appreciate that Karl-Anthony Towns is becoming the star who stayed in Minnesota. They’re also coming around on Rudy Gobert, who’s anchoring the defense this year.

All three players are vital to Minnesota’s success, and Edwards could reach Kevin Garnett-level superstardom. But fans grew attached to star players on losing teams. Parts of the fanbase loved Ricky Rubio, Garnett, and Andrew Wiggins. But it’s hard to have a player like Reid on a losing team. Rosters turn over too often, and people are less locked in on daily happenings with a team that can’t win. Players like Reid become the glue guys that losing teams lack.

But it’s something more than that. How many casual fans know that Reid went undrafted? Or that he was famous growing up on the East Coast? There’s just something about him that everybody likes. He’s an everyman, and there aren’t many of those in a league of nearly superhuman athletes.

Reid seems to take his stardom in stride. He’s thankful for it but doesn’t bask in it. Reid also deserves the adulation he gets, but many players like him aren’t fully appreciated. He thrives in his role because he’s a scorer who also sets up his teammates. Reid is a famous player who isn’t self-important. Whether Naz Reid is the ideal man is up to you, but he is the perfect superstar for this team.

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