Naz Reid is light on his feet these days. He looks more athletic, too, making plays on both ends of the floor that you wouldn’t expect from someone of his size.
Especially not someone who displayed such little athleticism in the NBA Summer League of his rookie season.
The 21-year-old Timberwolves center said he has lost almost 30 pounds since coming to Minnesota. He’s now playing in the 243- to 245-pound range, right around where he was in his one season of college ball at LSU.
“I’m quick off the ground. I just feel way better. My body feels way better,” Reid said. “Those are two things that I couldn’t do when I first got here.”
For that, he credits Timberwolves strength coaches Bill Burgos and Kurt Joseph, as well as Javier Gillett, the team’s vice president of sports science and performance.
Between college and his rookie season as a pro, Reid suffered an injury that caused his weight to balloon. But he has transformed his body through simple things such as weights and time on the treadmill.
“It’s not something that I haven’t been used to before,” Reid said. “It wasn’t as hard. Now I just have to stay at the weight I’m at.”
Because that is working for him. Reid has scored in double figures in each of his past four games, despite playing less than 24 minutes in any of them. He is averaging 15.8 points and 6.3 rebounds in that span, shooting 60% from the floor and 38% from deep.
“Just being me,” Reid said. “My teammates kept telling me to just do what I do best and go out there, have fun, play hard and do what I do.”
Timberwolves coach Chris Finch said he was a fan of the undrafted center before he even arrived in Minnesota in midseason. He has a love for skilled big men.
“He’s a lot like KAT. You can play him all over the floor. He’s a really willing and good passer, as well as scorer. He can score at the rim, can make a three,” Finch said. “These guys are just luxuries to have. We’ve asked him to start rolling more. He’s giving us a dynamic that we desperately need.”
Reid didn’t play particularly well during Karl-Anthony Towns’ two-game absence last week, two blowout losses to Brooklyn and Milwaukee. The coaching staff challenged him after those games, and he has responded with another stretch of brilliant play off the bench.
Finch thinks Reid and high-energy, defensive-minded forward Jarred Vanderbilt are a strong frontcourt combination off the bench. But Reid has proven equally good playing in two-center lineups alongside Towns. That combination, which Finch has made almost a regular part of Minnesota’s rotation, has flourished. The Wolves are outscoring opponents by 4.4 points per 100 possessions since the all-star break when Reid and Towns share the court.
“I’ve been really happy. I think he’s going to be a really good player in this league,” Finch said. “And he just continues to learn and get better.”