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Vegas Summer League: Naz Reid propels Timberwolves to title game

Updated July 15, 2019 - 11:37 am

Minnesota Timberwolves rookie center Naz Reid doesn’t lament being passed over in this year’s NBA draft.

“Nobody else believed in me,” Reid said Sunday after keying an 85-77 victory over the Brooklyn Nets in the Vegas Summer League semifinals at the Thomas &Mack Center. “But the Timberwolves did. … They have a good future for me.”

One that continues with the championship game on Monday, when the third-seeded Timberwolves (6-0) face the No. 8-seeded Memphis Grizzlies (5-1) at 6 p.m. at the Thomas &Mack.

The 6-foot-10-inch, 250-pound Reid had a team-high 20 points along with six rebounds and three blocks — while displaying a combination of power and grace against Brooklyn center Jarrett Allen, who started 80 regular-season games in 2018-19 and averaged 10.9 points and 8.4 rebounds.

Reid, a former five-star recruit, was not among the 60 drafted after his freshman season at Louisiana State, but he is making the most of his opportunity with the undefeated Timberwolves and relished the chance to play against Allen.

“Just getting the chance to go at (Allen), trying to show what I can do or just trying to stop what he can do, it’s really a great experience,” Reid said of his battle with the 21-year-old rim-runner. “It was really fun.”

Reid prepped at Roselle Catholic High School near his hometown of Asbury Park, New Jersey, and established himself as one of the country’s top interior prep players — and a McDonald’s All-American.

He avoided the traditional path that top prospects often follow — bypassing perennial powerhouse programs like Kansas, UCLA and Arizona — in favor of LSU, where he averaged 13.6 points and 7.2 rebounds while leading the Tigers to the NCAA Tournament.

But he wasn’t drafted and instead signed a two-way contract with the Timberwolves, who admire his potential and think he can develop into a full-time NBA player.

“We are all glad to have him. … I think it’s an excellent project for us,” Minnesota Summer League coach Pablo Prigioni said. “It’s a player development project, but already he can compete. … We are enjoying watching him play so far. We talk between coaches. He’s (having) a great Summer League, and we’re hoping we can (help him) get better.

Reid is indeed showcasing some of that five-star ability, blending sophisticated footwork with a cerebral savvy in the low post. He’s also finished at the rim as a roller and unveiled his 3-point shot — practically a necessity for big men in the modern NBA.

In six games, he’s averaging 12.5 points and 4.7 rebounds and is shooting 51.9 percent and 47 percent from 3-point range. He says he has plenty of areas in which he can improve.

“Guarding pick and rolls, shooting the ball, being able to (contest) shots on the defensive end,” he said. “Just all-around game.”

But another goal takes priority Monday night.

Specifically, a team goal.

“(We’re) trying to win everything,” he said. “We knew it wasn’t going to be easy, but we’ve definitely been able to take over this past week.”

Contact reporter Sam Gordon at sgordon@reviewjournal.com. Follow @BySamGordon on Twitter.

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