NBA: Who Is Timberwolves Center Naz Reid’s NBA Player Comparison?

When the news broke a week before free agency about Naz Reid’s extension, I was in the same boat as the majority of Minnesota Timberwolves fans – ecstatic to keep a player who has made all the money he signed for.

Reid is a home-grown story. He entered the league undrafted and worked incredibly hard to improve every year of his career. It’s been fun to follow his improvement, which has earned him life-changing generational money. He went from a written-off, former five-star prospect to a very valuable, necessary asset, which is something that doesn’t happen too often — especially for the Timberwolves. That said, and thoughts about his potential fit on this list came to mind, it reminded me of a Twitter thread I saw and participated in that asked the question:

Who is Naz Reid’s player comparison?

Player comparisons are always difficult. You always end up saying, “He’s like this guy, but can shoot,” or “He’s like this guy, but with worse defense.” So how do you try to find a matchup for a 6-foot-9, 264-pound center whose best asset is his fluidity and ability to take defenders off the bounce and finish at the rim?

I wanted to choose a retired player from the past as one comp, and a current player for the other, to illustrate the diversity of players whose skills are similar to those displayed in Naz Reid’s game.

Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images

Player Comparison #1: Pau Gasol (Lite)

It took a lot of research and some heated debates with my older brother (who is also a basketball geek) to finally land on a player from the past that encapsulates what Reid does on the basketball court.

I was finally able to land on someone who, when I put him to the eye test, I could see a lot of similarities to Reid in his game: Pau Gasol. Now, Naz Reid obviously isn’t as decorated as Pau and probably never will be, but I couldn’t help but catch glimpses of Gasol’s highlights.

Pau was always able to handle the ball very well for his size and use it to get past defenders and slam it over them. The former Spain international star possessed obvious fluidity and could use that smoothness to get his own shot as well as set up his teammates with good looks around the rim and around the basket. Although the two-time NBA champion was a bit more of a classic back-to-the-basket player, I can still see moves reminiscent of Gasol that make Reid so electric and will continue to make him a key piece off the bench for Wolves this season – namely his quick spins and finishes. That Los Angeles Lakers the legend was also a constant movement in attack and acted as the engine that facilitated ball movement and good looks all over the pitch. That, plus a learned ability to stretch the floor (Pau’s shooting came more later in his career, he was never a knockdown or high volume shooter, but he could take an open one) as well as being an overall minus defender encapsulates a lot of Naz Reid’s role with the Minnesota Timberwolves.

Photo by Zach Beeker/NBAE via Getty Images

Player Comparison #2: Jordan Clarkson

I know what you’re thinking.

Why would I choose a combo guard as a player comparison for a center? Well, I think this illustrates not only how unique a player Reid really is, but also how difficult it is to answer this question. However, let’s take the positions out of it and focus on what these players bring to the table. Jordan Clarkson is a spark plug, energy player who is great off the bench Utah Jazz. He is fluid and smooth with the ball in his hands, plays with great pace and serves as a scoring weapon capable of carrying the load offensively. The San Antonio, Texas native can also shoot a little bit, though it’s not the best part of his game, and Clarkson is generally a minus defender. Does it remind you of anyone?

When watching highlights from Clarkson (which is a dangerous play since it feels like everyone from this year is against the Timberwolves), it’s almost uncanny how similar he and Reid can look when comparing their games side-by-side page. Every team would love to have a Jordan Clarkson – just like every team would love to have a Naz Reid. They inject energy and pace into attack and are usually a half-court strike that drives movement around them, although they tend to set up their own shot more often than not. This pace and energy is important to have on offense, especially when that player comes off the bench.

Photo by David Sherman/NBAE via Getty Images

Naz Reid is one of the most unique players in terms of what he offers at the position he plays and the body type he has. It has been fascinating to follow his progression and fun to watch him perform on the field the way he has. While there are reasonable question marks about how this team will work through the fit of Naz, Karl-Anthony Towns and Rudy Gobert, one thing is certain: I’m glad Naz Reid is still a Timberwolf and will be for a foreseeable future.

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