Naz Reid is loved by Timberwolves fans and players, alike. Here’s why.

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He is a reserve player who happens to be a favorite of not only Timberwolves’ fans, but also the players.

The ovations he receives are starting to rival those of Anthony Edwards. For awhile there, Naz Reid was a lovable cult hero. But an entire Target Center crowd extends far beyond the reaches of the circles of Reddit.

Reid is simply, universally, loved.

“Naz is the best, man,” Wolves point guard Mike Conley summed up after Minnesota’s home victory Saturday over Miami.

As Reid beamed in the locker room, Kyle Anderson told him his 25-point, eight-rebound performance was some “6th Man of the Year (stuff).” Yet any praise he receives from his peers pales in comparison to what he’s showered with in his kingdom known to most as Target Center.

Every member of the roster is introduced individually prior to each home opener. When “At 6-foot-10, from LSU” was called out by Timberwolves’ public address announcer Jedidiah Jones, the crowd hit a new decibel level – it was time for Naz Reid. Reid’s roar matched that of his superstar teammates.

“That’s just love, man,” Reid said after the game. “I’m speechless. It’s crazy because it’s something that you dream of as a kid. It’s definitely special.”

As is the “Naz Reid” chants that echo throughout the arena as Reid takes over games, as he did in the second half of Minnesota’s win over Miami. An internet joke of sorts has quickly morphed into a rallying cry – a symbol of hope for franchise’s now, and its future.

“You never can really imagine something that special,” Reid said. “I appreciate every single person that was able to do that for me.”

But why does Reid invoke such emotions out of those who spend time with him and watch him play basketball?

It likely has something to do with the journey. Reid was an undrafted free agency, thought to be a talented player who wasn’t going to live up to his potential at the pro level. How wrong that’s been proven to date.

Reid demonstrated his wide array of skills from the early stages of his career. But, more importantly, he’s grown in every pivotal facet since then.

Timberwolves coach Chris Finch lauded Reid’s improvement as a rebounder, perimeter defender and attacker of switches this offseason.

He said Reid’s current confidence level is a “testament to what a great summer can do for you.” Later, the coach conceded every summer Reid has spent as a professional has been “great.” Reid is never satisfied with the current state of his game, but instead yearns for new ways to improve and, thus, ascend.

“Whether it was his body early and then finding his game and then his confidence,” Finch said. “He’s a worker.”

Timberwolves’ fans love workers. They crave effort. Regardless of performance level, Reid will give you his best every night. That was evident against Miami, as Reid chased the likes of Tyler Herro and Duncan Robinson around the 3-point line when called upon. Whatever the challenge, Reid will do his best to meet it.

“I thought his defense tonight, particularly chasing and guarding and being up and being impactful, it was awesome,” Finch said. “And his rebounding has taken another leap. Fun to watch him play, for sure.”

Even more so on offense, where Reid is an agent of good basketball. Reid never stands still. He’s always moving his body or the ball. He is a read-and-instantly-react player. Stagnicity will not be tolerated in his presence.

“He does things quickly. That’s what we’ve always loved about him,” Finch said. “He’s just a catalyst in our offense. He creates next-action basketball.”
Which makes him a dream to play alongside.

“The way he approaches the game – on the court he’s easy to play with because he just moves and the ball is always just going somewhere and he doesn’t really think too much as far as what to do with it,” Conley said. “He’s just dribble, shoot, pass, he’s going right to it. Those guys are really fun to be around. He’s just a good teammate and a heckuva player.”

Conley said Reid is “one of my favorite guys that I’ve been able to play with as a teammate.” Partially because Reid is about the right things. No one wants to win as badly as Reid, something that’s been evidenced by the pain he exudes when Minnesota struggles. Much like how one is as pleased with the team’s successes.

Given all that, it’s no wonder Minnesota basketball fans – who take a strong liking to basketball played the right way – were so pleased when Reid signed a new three-year deal this offseason to remain with the team.

They have attached themselves to the 24-year-old center.

In return, he’s done the same.

“I wasn’t going anywhere (in free agency),” Reid said. “I love it here, man. It’s special. It’s definitely a place I want to be and develop. I’ve developed from year one to now. Each and every year, I’ve gotten better, so there was definitely no reason for me to leave.”

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