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Midseason Review: Naz Reid

Reid has been able to provide an offensive punch for the Wolves, but has struggled to keep up with opposing centers.

Minnesota Timberwolves v Sacramento Kings Photo by Rocky Widner/NBAE via Getty Images

Naz Reid has continued to fill his role as the backup center for the Minnesota Timberwolves this season, averaging 8.2 PTS and 3.9 REB. This role includes providing an offensive spark off the bench, being able to step in for Karl-Anthony Towns and give Chris Finch another scoring big to slide into the lineup.

Reid has fulfilled that role relatively well this season, but has been a bit up-and-down (as the team has been). His strengths are clear: floor spacing, inside finishing and athleticism.

(This dunk was unreal).

Unfortunately, his weaknesses are just as clear as his strengths: struggling against bigger/stronger centers, overall defense and rebounding. Without Towns on the floor, asking Reid to guard opposing centers feels like a tall order.

It also seems almost unfair to put Reid on players like Jonas Valanciunas, who has given Reid and the Wolves fits this season. Perhaps Valanciunas is an extreme example (7’0”, 265 pounds), but the idea stands: Reid will likely struggle with any above-average skill-level center, especially the ones who are bigger than him.

Minnesota Timberwolves v Utah Jazz Photo by Melissa Majchrzak/NBAE via Getty Images

Those weaknesses reflect the weaknesses of the team, as the Wolves lack size and rebounding outside of Towns and Jarred Vanderbilt. For context, the Wolves are +1.6 per 100 possessions on the boards when Vanderbilt and Towns are on the floor. The five-man pairing of Reid, Jaden McDaniels, Taurean Prince, Malik Beasley and D’Angelo Russell is -14.2 on the glass per 100 possessions.

Before the NBA Trade Deadline hit on Thursday, it was thought that the Wolves might pursue another big. With three second-round picks in the upcoming draft, it seemed logical to attempt to move any number of those plus an expiring contract to bring in some help. However, the Wolves chose not to do so. With this group continuing to gel, it was likely the right move to stand pat at the deadline.

Rebounding will continue to be an issue down the stretch however, as after Towns and Vanderbilt the Wolves’ next leading rebounder is Anthony Edwards (Reid is behind Edwards, Beverley and McDaniels in rebounds per game).

On offense, Reid has continued to build upon a strong connection with Jordan McLaughlin. McLaughlin, who has 45 assists and one turnover in his last 12 games, has worked well with Reid in the pick-and-roll ever since they became teammates. McLaughlin’s passing ability and Reid’s athleticism can make for some exciting plays.

For many Wolves fans, Reid was one of the most logical players to be moved at the deadline. His skillset mirrors what Towns brings to the table, which can make for a valuable fill-in but continues to neglect the weaknesses of the team. Having another center that specializes in rebounding and interior defense would be a tremendous addition to this team, and we’ll see if the Wolves pursue any opportunities to make that addition for their playoff push.