Dane Mizutani: Naz Reid is turning into an irreplaceable player for Timberwolves

Though some people have floated Reid’s name with the trade deadline looming next week, there’s absolutely no way the Timberwolves can trade him.

NBA: Minnesota Timberwolves at Detroit Pistons
Minnesota Timberwolves center Naz Reid has stepped up his game in the absence of Karl-Anthony Towns and the often-injured Rudy Gobert.
Allison Farrand / USA Today Sports

MINNEAPOLIS -- Naz Reid? Naz Reid.

As the final seconds ticked away in overtime on Wednesday night at Target Center, Reid caught a pass from Anthony Edwards in the corner. He eyed up a dagger, lined up his shot, then released the ball from his hands.

Though he narrowly missed the mark, Reid tracked down his own miss, grabbed the rebound and threw down an emphatic dunk to help the Minnesota Timberwolves put an exclamation mark on a 119-1114 win over the dynastic Golden State Warriors.

“Electrifying,” Reid said. “Everybody was on their feet.”

They were on their feet because of him.


“He dunked the hell out of it,” Edwards said with a smile postgame. “I ain’t going to lie, man”

That play was Reid in a nutshell.

He’s a hard worker through and through. He’s been through the ringer to get to this point. He started as an undrafted free agent out of LSU and had to grind to carve out a niche in the Timberwolves lineup. He’s parlayed that into more playing time and suddenly has become an irreplaceable player for Timberwolves.

Simply put, the Timberwolves don’t win that game without Reid, and frankly, it’s not even close. On this particular night, Reid finished with 24 points and 13 rebounds. He finished 10 for 22 from the floor, including a number of clutch shots down the stretch.

NBA: Golden State Warriors at Minnesota Timberwolves
Minnesota Timberwolves center Naz Reid, left, moves the ball against Golden State Warriors center Kevon Looney in the fourth quarter Wednesday at Target Center. Reid finished with 24 points and 13 rebounds in the Wolves' 119-114 overtime win.
Bruce Kluckhohn / USA Today Sports

“He played his (expletive) off,” Austin Rivers said. “It was really fun, man. It’s fun to just watch a guy like that.”

It’s notable that Reid did most of his damage by going directly at Warriors star Draymond Green. Never mind that Green has the reputation of being perhaps the best defender in the league. That didn’t matter to Reid in the slightest.

“I’m not backing down,” Reid said. “If I see you, I’m going at you. That’s just what it is.”

His performance down the stretch came after a chat with coach Chris Finch at halftime. After getting the start in place of the injured Rudy Gobert, Reid knew he was going to have to perform at a high level if the Timberwolves were going to have a chance.


Dane Mizutani

That said, Reid was tentative in the first half.

“He missed early, then he started turning down shots,” Finch said. “We told him at halftime, ‘You’ve got to shoot those.’ ”

That’s exactly what Reid did in the second half. Though the Timberwolves got a massive spark from D’Angelo Russell in the final frame to erase a double-digit deficit, Reid also stepped up big time. He was outstanding whether he was knifing his way to the bucket or nailing shots from long range.

Asked where that confidence came from, Reid referenced his conversation with Finch at halftime.

“He told me to go to work,” Reid said. “That’s exactly what he said, ‘Go to work’. I felt like I had the green light from there. I just did what I do best.”

This is yet another example of Reid making the most of his opportunities. He shines whenever he gets thrust into the spotlight and that doesn’t appear to be changing anytime soon.

Minnesota’s offense has found its rhythm without KAT and Ant; it’s their job to join the flow, not disrupt it
If the center/forward is going to stay in Minnesota, the Wolves need to see how he fits on the floor with Towns and Gobert
Towns finished with 22 points on 8-for-18 shooting. And he made the game-tying and game-winning free throws.
Towns hasn’t played since suffering a calf strain Nov. 29. Edwards has missed the last two games with an ankle sprain suffered Friday.
Prince finished one 3-pointer shy of tying the NBA record for most 3-pointers without a miss, held by Ben Gordon (twice) and Latrell Sprewell.
There are ways for Minnesota to win games, even without Edwards and the still missing Karl-Anthony Towns
Toronto took advantage of the Antony Edwards-less Timberwolves to claim their seventh consecutive home victory
DeRozan scored 49 points, while Lavine added another 39 for Chicago
Minnesota shot 44% from the field, but the team’s 27 assists told a story of progress
Boston has won 26 of its last 31 games against Minnesota.

“We just know what to expect from him,” Edwards said. “If he’s inserted into the starting lineup, we know he’s going to show up big.”

Though some people have floated Reid’s name with the trade deadline looming next week, there’s absolutely no way the Timberwolves can trade him. He’s too valuable. He proved that in a big way against the defending NBA champions.


“It’s a side most people didn’t see yet,” Reid said. “I’ve got a lot more.”

That’s a scary thought.


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