An undrafted player out of LSU, Naz Reid slowly became a fan favorite in Minnesota. In his second NBA season, Reid showed out in star center Karl-Anthony Towns’ absence. Reid averaged a career-high 5 rebounds and 12 points per game when Towns was out.
But Reid’s numbers and minutes dwindled when KAT returned this year. Reid was a respectable big during the regular season, averaging 8 points and 4 rebounds per game. But he struggled when things got tight in the playoffs.
Before last year’s playoffs, I mentioned that the Minnesota Timberwolves might not be able to use him in the postseason. Once playoffs came around, Reid’s averages dropped to 5 points and 3 rebounds per game. Rebounding, in general, was an issue for the Wolves. After watching Reid for a couple of games, he became apparent he struggles to box out, allowing more offensive rebounds for the opponents.
Although Reid’s story is inspiring, it may be reaching its end in Minnesota. The Wolves shouldn’t be moving on from Reid entirely. But they should alleviate some of his backup responsibilities.
New York Knicks center Mitchell Robinson is the first, and possibly the best, candidate to replace him. The 7-footer has a 7’4″-inch wingspan. For perspective, Towns has a 7’3″ wingspan. Robinson is an elite rim protector, a glaring weakness on Minnesota’s roster. On the offensive side of the ball, he would be a roll man. Robinson ranks top-10 in points per possession on pick-and-rolls and would pair nicely alongside Jordan McLaughlin.
However, there are some downsides to adding him. Robinson battled injuries throughout his career and has only played 70 games once in his four-year career. However, last year he had his healthiest season so far. Robinson also has a history of foul trouble, which isn’t ideal when combined with Towns’ struggles in that category. Nevertheless, Mitchell Robinson would be an excellent backup in Minnesota.
Marvin Bagley III
Marvin Bagley would also be an excellent fit for the Wolves roster. The Sacramento Kings took Bagley 2nd overall in 2018, but they traded him to the Detroit Pistons. At 6’11”, 235 lbs., Bagley is bigger than Reid, and he’s a significantly better rebounder. Bagley averaged 7 boards in Detroit and would fill a huge need for Minnesota.
However, Bagley has some baggage, including his contract situation and mindset. He’s a restricted free agent, so the Pistons could match any offer the Wolves send his way, making it hard to pry Bagley away from Detroit. If the Wolves manage to steal him away, his mindset can be questioned at times.
Bagley spent the better portion of his past two years trying to escape Sacramento and became very vocal on social media. I can’t really blame him for not wanting to stay with the Kings, but making squabbles like that public can sometimes mess with locker room chemistry, one of Minnesota’s strengths. Bagley’s talent may not be worth the risk of demolishing locker room chemistry.
Mo Bamba is probably the least realistic acquisition on this list, but he’s still worth a look. It would probably take a first-round pick to get him, and the Orlando Magic can match any offer.
Bamba’s career got off to a relatively slow start, but he’s been on a hot streak lately. Still, he had an impressive finish to the 2021-22 season. Boasting 12 points, 7 boards, and 1.5 blocks per game, the 6’11” center has the biggest wingspan in the NBA (7’10”). Unsurprisingly, he’s a great rim protector.
The Wolves would experience a meaningful change in trajectory if they added Bamba’s size. He’d be enough to make them at least a second-round playoff team.
It’s worth noting that Jarred Vanderbilt has spent some time as a small-ball center. Although he isn’t a better option than Naz Reid, it would be interesting to see Chris Finch’s attempt to counter bigger lineups by putting the hustling Vanderbilt at the 5.
Naz is a quality backup center, but the Wolves couldn’t use him in the playoffs. With the prospect of a much more competitive Western Conference looming, the Wolves need to improve. Tim Connelly should look to the backup center position to improve. Still, Naz Reid’s future is certainly not over. If the Wolves decide to pick up his option this off-season, which they should, he’ll have one final chance to prove himself.