The absence of Karl-Anthony Towns to a fractured wrist for at least the next two weeks means one player is going to get a big opportunity while Towns is out – rookie Naz Reid.
The undrafted center out of LSU started in Towns’ place in the 127-117 loss to Boston on Friday night at Target Center.
His stat line shows he acquitted himself well: 19 points on 7 of 15 shooting to go with nine rebounds and three steals.
The Wolves have been high on Reid, giving him a multi-year deal shortly after signing him following the draft in June. And now he’s gone from undrafted rookie to the starting lineup.
“I feel I’m getting really comfortable,” Reid said. “Just staying positive and knowing that everything will be OK even if you do something bad because your teammates have your back and coach has your back. Just go out there and play your all.”
It’s what Reid has done, whether he has been in Iowa or with the Wolves. Some players may have a hesitancy to shoot in their first stint in the NBA. Reid has been firing away ever since he played his first significant minutes in late December.
“When I was out and not playing as much minutes, I was just working on my body and running up and down the floor,” Reid said. “Just doing things so that when my time was to come, I’ll be ready. Those moments helped me for today.”
The offensive acumen with Reid has been apparent since he came up. His ability to his three-pointers at a respectable rate can help make him a suitable backup for Towns, who is the best shooting big man in the league from deep. The question for Reid and his long-term viability in the league is defensively, an area in which he’s improving, according to teammates and his coach.
“Naz is still learning,” coach Ryan Saunders said. “I'm really happy with Naz's game. He's still learning in a lot of games, where he should be if he's the big in coverage in those situations, especially in the fourth quarter, but it's a great experience for him.”
There should be more to come.