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Timberwolves Exclusive: Naz Reid speaks on the NBA shut down, Nikola Jokic, and making the playoffs

Timberwolves, Naz Reid, Naz Reid rookie year, Timberwolves playoffs

All rookies don’t get to walk the stage and shake the NBA commissioner’s hand. Some players never even get a chance to hear their name called on TV during draft night. Minnesota Timberwolves center Naz Reid was one of those players that didn’t hear his name called. He signed with the Timberwolves as an undrafted free agent. After impressing the franchise in the NBA Summer League, Reid received a four-year deal shortly after.

In an exclusive interview on ClutchPoints’ Year 1 YouTube series, Reid shared some experiences about his rookie year and more.

Reid was already on an unconventional route to a promising NBA career. He left LSU after his freshmen season and didn’t get drafted. Once he signed with Minnesota and secured his place on the Timberwolves, everything should’ve been good to go, right?

After 30 games, Reid was in the everyday rotation. He averaged 16.5 minutes, 9.0 points, and 4.1 rebounds. That’s when the unthinkable occurred, and the world learned about a new virus called Covid-19. The beginning of a global pandemic arose and instantly sent the world into a panic, and the NBA shut down indefinitely.

“I thought the world was over,” Reid told ClutchPoints. “I knew about it, but I didn’t know too much about it at the time. Then you see an outbreak like this. It’s like, what’s going on?

The shocking news of the NBA shutting down turned into all major sports doing the same. That’s when many started to fear the worst. People began to stock up on what are usually everyday household products. Soon the cleaning section of all stores were empty. Shortly after that, every state was on a strict lockdown.

“You start to worry. Especially when you’re working, jobs are at stake, and you have people to feed the family to feed. So now you might stop getting paid and things of that nature. So it was definitely worrisome,” Reid explained.

Although it ended Reid’s rookie year early, the NBA and NBPA worked together and figured out a way to safely bring the NBA back. After two years of hard work and safety protocols, society is getting closer to normal, and the NBA has opened arenas back up to maximum capacity.

Since then, Reid’s game has been blossoming, and he’s becoming a force in the paint and the perimeter. He’s the backup to Karl-Anthony Towns, and when the starters are resting, he’s a top offensive option. In his second season, Reid put together a great year, averaging 11.2 points on 52.3 percent shooting. He also pulled down 4.6 boards per game.

Reid’s figuring out what type of player he can be in this league and plans on accomplishing great things. But he admits there is one player in the NBA that he’s still figuring out. That’s the reigning MVP Nikola Jokic from the Denver Nuggets. There is an apparent size advantage that favors the Joker, but Reid doesn’t mention that as the problem when defending him.

“You try and beat him to the spot, being that he’s slower than you,” Reid tells ClutchPoints. “He passes it to the next person because he knows you’re going to cut him off. But he’s so slow or whatever the case may be.”

The Joker is a magician with the ball standing at 7-feet-tall. He can see over most defenders and make any pass. No matter what defenders do, the reigning MVP never gets rattled. He continues to play at his pace, and magic happens.

“It’s just like back and forth. You got to keep trying to beat him to the spot. He knows that you’re trying to do that because he’s slow. It’s like he realizes that. It’s hard. Like which way should I stay? It’s tough,” Reid explained to ClutchPoints.

The mystery of how to defend The Joker is an answer many are still trying to discover. One thing Reid and his team do think they understand this year is how to win games. Reid said he is sure the Timberwolves will be in the NBA Playoffs this season. He even believes they can be a top 6 seed or maybe higher.

“I feel like we got a lot of guys who are locked in on that. Everybody’s ready to achieve that one goal. It really started when Pat (Beverly) came in. He brought the energy and excitement. He’s been in the Playoffs all 10 years of his career and isn’t looking forward to missing one. So, we’ve all got on board, and that’s something that we all want to do,” Reid said.

When it comes to goals for himself, Reid has his eyes on the Most Improved Player of the Year award. His numbers improved each of the two seasons he’s played for the Timberwolves. This third year he hopes to make it even better.

“I want to keep being able to strive and go up each and every game, each and every second, just go up and do everything that I do best. That helps me and the team,” Reid told ClutchPoints.

In his first game this season, he recorded 5 points, 7 rebounds, 3 blocks, and 1 steal. They defeated the Houston Rockets 124 to 106. A solid start for the 22-year-old who was undrafted and now is making an impact every night for the Timberwolves.