One of the best stories in the game is seeing an undrafted player become a hidden gem. There have been many examples throughout NBA history, of Ben wallace and John stark at Udonis Haslem and Fred van vleet.
While this is still at the start of his career, we could see the start of another example with the Minnesota Timberwolves and center Naz reid. An undrafted player in 2019 that the Minnesota Timberwolves later signed, Reid has carved out an excellent role in the Wolves roster in his third season. He’s been stepping up lately as other players have run out of time due to health and safety protocols.
It may be too early to call Reid an undrafted player who has turned into a hidden gem. But he’s off to a good start if his game this season progresses into the future. As we watch Reid’s story unfold, let’s look back on his journey from leaving LSU to where he is now.
High hopes emerge from LSU
A native of Ashbury Park, NJ, Reid graduated from Roselle Catholic High School in 2018 as a five-star rookie, McDonald’s All-American, and the No.18 ranked prospect on the Recruitment Services Consensus Index Ranking. Top of that list included other NBA players Rj barrett, reddish cam, Zion Williamson, Bowl Bowl, and others.
Reid ended up committing to playing collegially at LSU, where he quickly made a name for himself with the Tigers. He averaged 13.6 points, 7.2 rebounds and 0.9 assists in 34 games during the 2018-19 season. After that year, Reid declared himself for the NBA Draft in hopes of hearing his name called out early on.
Not only did Reid not hear his name called as soon as he had hoped, but he didn’t hear his name called at all. Some experts were surprised that he was not drafted. But shortly after the draft, Reid ended up getting a call from Wolves, who signed him to a two-way contract as an undrafted free agent. He started his career in the G League. It marked the start of what was to be an uphill battle for the big man.
From the G League to the NBA
Reid spent part of the 2019-20 season in the G League with Minnesota affiliate Iowa Wolves. It was there that he started to impress in 16 games in Iowa, averaging 18.4 points, 9.9 rebounds, 3.2 assists, two blocks and 1.2 steals per game as that rookie.
Reid did enough to prove he was a legitimate prospect deserving of an expanded role to the next level during this short period of the G League. He ended up calling the NBA to debut.
Part of the reason for Reid’s summons was due to his play in the G League. The other was due to an injury sustained by Karl-Anthony Towns which left Wolves shorthanded in the paint. To end the 2019-20 season, Reid ended up making a total of 30 appearances for Minnesota, averaging 9.0 points, 4.1 rebounds and 1.2 assists while starting in 11 games.
Since then, he has remained in the NBA. He began to create a role for himself in the league. In 2020-21, Reid played 70 games and started 15 of those contests, averaging 11.2 points, 4.6 rebounds, 1.1 blocks and 1.0 assists in 19.2 minutes per game. Now in 2021-2022, he continues to build on that and has even given things a boost.
Role in 2021-22
Reid has shown in Flashes that he’s ready to hold his place in the NBA in some ways, whether or not it’s in a backup role or maybe a starting job in the future. Either way, he’s been a great part of the Wolves rotation, whatever role he ended up filling. He was one of the most diligent and energetic players to speak out every night.
Near the regular season midpoint, Reid is averaging 9.3 points, 4.1 rebounds, 0.8 blocks and 0.8 assists in 17.2 minutes per game, starting in five games so far for Minnesota. In his last five games leading up to Wednesday’s game against the Oklahoma City Thunder, Reid has performed well as Towns is out of health and safety protocols averaging 12.6 points, 7.8 rebounds and an assist in 23.8 minutes.
Reid will revert to a center save option as he comes off the bench to relieve Towns. But Wolves hope his hard-working, energetic mentality and playing in recent times will only continue and grow in a different role.
Naz has been fun to watch since his call to the NBA in 2019. Some have even asked him to expand his role with Wolves during the 2021-22 season. If his game continues to match what we’ve seen so far and gets even better, a bigger role will be a hard thing to ignore for this undrafted player both this year and beyond.