Sitting down to write this in-depth look at the Summer League of a two-way guy, the realization quickly hit that real NBA basketball needs to come back. Like, immediately. Nonetheless, here we are, starved of real hoops and deep-diving into fringe players.
Even after a shoddy outing in the championship game, Naz Reid was still the standout in Las Vegas. Despite entering the training camp with a foot issue, Reid finished the tournament averaging 11.9 points, 5.4 rebounds, 2 assists and 0.7 blocks per game, while nailing 46 percent of his field goals. All of that came in just 18.6 minutes per game.
After watching 60 picks go past without hearing his name called on draft night, it didn’t take long for Gersson Rosas to single out the 6-foot-10, 250 lb giant and sign him to a two-way contract.
“Naz was an individual we identified during the draft process,” Rosas said while speaking on the Summer League broadcast. “[He’s] a young big, decorated, talented ... for us we saw a very talented individual with a good approach who needed an opportunity to be in the right program,”
Making sweeping declarations about Summer League is like indulging in a game of Russian Roulette, but it certainly looks like Reid has some tangible skills that could translate into the big leagues. As it does with all players these days, it starts with his 3-point shooting.
It’s uncommon for a player with a build like Reid’s to possess such an effortless stroke from distance. More importantly, it’s accompanied by an unflappable confidence to jack them up. In spite of his limited minutes, Reid managed to get up three triples per game, making 38 percent of them.
With shooting being his biggest focus, the 19-year-old looks to slip out of picks and space the floor more often than not. With a quick trigger and good shot preparation, Reid makes for the perfect pick-and-pop prototype.
When he was asked in his Summer League media availability about his 3-point shooting, Reid sounded as straightforward and confident as his shooting mechanics are.
“That’s something that I do well,” he said. “It’s been going well, so that’s what I’m going to keep doing.”
Aside from his jumper, Reid has good touch around the rim, even if he doesn’t post up and bang down low as much as someone his size usually would. He flashed a small variety of post moves thus far, including quick spin moves and a mini-Dream Shake that shook Brooklyn Nets starting center Jarrett Allen out of his shoes.
Despite spending the majority of his time setting up camp behind the arc, it is extremely important for Reid to be able to do some work in the paint. This will prevent him from being a complete negative if his shot isn’t going down. Fortunately for him, he will garner minutes through his ability to pass the ball, too.
He flaunted a diversified repertoire of passes over the last few weeks, from razor-sharp bounce passes to backdoor cutters to over-the-shoulder hook passes that are reminiscent of the kind Karl-Anthony Towns whips around. Even when he wasn’t racking up assists for a reward, his passes out of pick-and-rolls and post-ups often established Pablo Prigioni’s ball-hopping offense.
As the adage goes, what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas, but the organizational brass will be expecting those NBA-ready traits to follow the big man back to Minnesota and Iowa. However, there are certainly a few warts they will be hoping to burn off as he grows into his potential.
The first being his rebounding. For a man of such huge height and girth, Reid struggled with his positioning and timing on boards. Perhaps his injury and conditioning came into play here, but he will need to be a competent rebounder if he wants to get consistent minutes in the NBA.
Secondly, and perhaps more concerning, Reid’s mobility really hampers him on both ends. He lacks the burst and first step to punish defenders for closing out too hard on his jumper, which puts a cap on how potent his offensive game can be. Combine that with hard hands that struggle to grasp swift pocket passes and the lumbering giant’s game can look far from beautiful at times.
That slow-moving uneasiness carries over to the defensive end, too. He often looked like he was sinking in quicksand when he was forced to defend in space, forcing him to swipe in and gamble on a steal that was never there. In transition, his snail’s pace effectively stops him from ever chasing down streaking scorers, or even getting close enough to put pressure on.
Again, there is no telling how much a sore foot limited him in these areas, but rebounding and defending weren’t standout skills for him in college either. At 19-years-old, there is plenty of time to find a way to improve, though. And with Rosas investing more time than any Timberwolves front office has in creating a foundation at the G-League level, Reid will have plenty of time to get better.
As for now, he looks like a G-League project that should see some end-of-bench spot minutes at times next season. If he can perfect his niche as a long-range shooter with some post and passing chops, he might just end up a good rotation guy in a few seasons.
Minnesota has never used their two-way contracts well. Jared Terrell and CJ Williams didn’t add much last season, which had become the norm since two-ways were created. With Reid, they have given themselves a real shot at landing a future piece while having the luxury of grooming him with the Iowa Wolves.
He is certainly one to keep an eye on throughout the season.