Naz Reid

Wolves’ Naz Reid Named Sixth Man Of The Year

Timberwolves big man Naz Reid has been named the NBA’s Sixth Man of the Year for the 2023/24 season, the league announced on Wednesday evening (via Twitter).

A former undrafted free agent, Reid averaged 13.5 PPG, 5.2 RPG and 0.9 BPG on .477/.414/.736 shooting in 81 games this season (24.2 MPG).

Reid is the first player in Timberwolves franchise history to win the Sixth Man award, per a team press release.

The 24-year-old was a major reason why Minnesota didn’t skip a beat when Karl-Anthony Towns was sidelined with a knee injury late in the season. The Wolves went 14-6 without Towns and 56-26 overall, good for the No. 3 seed in the West.

The voting was remarkably close (Twitter link via the NBA). In fact, it was the smallest margin between first- and second-place finishers since the current voting format was implemented 21 years ago, according to the league (via Twitter).

Reid finished with 45 first-place votes, 39 second-place votes and 10 third-place votes for a total of 352 points. Runner-up Malik Monk had the exact same number of second- and third-place votes, but finished with two fewer first-place votes for 342 total points.

Kings guard Monk appeared in 72 games this season for Sacramento, all off the bench. He averaged 15.4 PPG, 2.9 RPG and 5.1 APG on .443/.350/.829 shooting in 26.0 MPG.

Bucks big man Bobby Portis, who finished third in Sixth Man voting last season, finished a distant third again in ’23/24, receiving 81 total points. He averaged 13.8 PPG and 7.4 RPG on .508/.407/.790 shooting without missing a game this season for Milwaukee (24.5 MPG).

Clippers wing Norman Powell (65 points) and Hawks guard Bogdan Bogdanovic (40 points) finished fourth and fifth in voting, respectively. No other player received more than three points.

Powell actually received the most third-place votes of any player, but fewer first- and second-place votes than Portis, which is why he finished behind Milwaukee’s forward/center.

Jose Alvarado, Russell Westbrook, T.J. McConnell, Jonathan Isaac, Jaime Jaquez, Tim Hardaway Jr., and Bojan Bogdanovic all received at least one vote.

Doncic, Gilgeous-Alexander, Jokic Named MVP Finalists

Mavericks guard Luka Doncic, Thunder guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Nuggets center Nikola Jokic were revealed on Sunday as the finalists for the Most Valuable Player award, according to the NBA (Twitter link).

Doncic led the league in scoring (33.9 points per game) and finished second in assists (9.8) while also grabbing 9.2 rebounds per contest. Gilgeous-Alexander led the Thunder to the top seed in the Western Conference by averaging 30.1 points, 5.5 rebounds, 6.2 assists and 2.0 steals per contest. Jokic, who is widely considered the favorite to win his third MVP trophy, averaged 26.4 points, 12.4 rebounds and 9.0 assists per night.

The NBA also announced the finalists for six other postseason awards. Here are the finalists for all of those awards:

Most Valuable Player

Sixth Man

Defensive Player of the Year

Most Improved Player

Note: Sengun appeared in just 63 games but was eligible for award consideration based on the season-ending injury exception described in our glossary entry on the 65-game rule.

Coach of the Year

  • Mark Daigneault, Thunder
  • Chris Finch, Timberwolves
  • Jamahl Mosley, Magic

Rookie of the Year

Clutch Player of the Year

And-Ones: Kawhi, Team USA, FAs, Musa, Coaches, More

With 11 of 12 roster spots reportedly locked in for USA Basketball’s 2024 Olympic roster, the program could go in a number of different directions with the 12th and final slot. The list of players in contention for that final roster spot includes plenty of big names, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic, who reports that Clippers forward Kawhi Leonard is currently viewed as the leading candidate.

Leonard’s teammate Paul George, Knicks guard Jalen Brunson, Magic forward Paolo Banchero, and Nets forward Mikal Bridges are also in the mix, sources tell Charania.

Leonard hasn’t represented Team USA at the Olympics or a World Cup before, but has support from some of the stars on the roster, including Kevin Durant and LeBron James, says Charania. George won gold with Team USA in Rio de Janeiro in 2016, while Brunson, Banchero, and Bridges competed in the 2023 World Cup.

It’s possible that more than one player in that final group of candidates could ultimately make the cut if any of the top 11 have to drop out due to an injury or for personal reasons. Of course, Leonard is currently dealing with a nagging knee issue of his own, though there’s no indication at this point it would prevent him from playing in July.

Here are a few more odds and ends from around the basketball world:

  • Danny Leroux of The Athletic takes a look at the NBA’s 2024 free agent class, evaluating what sort of stars, starters, and rotation players will be available. As Leroux observes, a handful of stars are on track for potential free agency, but few – if any – are good bets to change teams. That group includes LeBron James, Paul George, James Harden, Pascal Siakam, and Tyrese Maxey.
  • In an interview with Dean Sinovcic of, former first-round pick Dzanan Musa, who spent two seasons in Brooklyn from 2018-20, didn’t rule out the possibility of returning to the NBA as early as this offseason, but said he’s focused for now on trying to win Liga ACB and EuroLeague titles with Real Madrid (hat tip to Sportando).
  • Sam Amick of The Athletic considers what’s at stake for each NBA head coach in the postseason, suggesting that the pressure will be on Joe Mazzulla (Celtics) to at least reach the NBA Finals. Jason Kidd (Mavericks), J.B. Bickerstaff (Cavaliers), and Darvin Ham (Lakers) are among the others who will be motivated to avoid early exits, Amick adds.
  • In a conversation about end-of-season awards, a panel of five ESPN experts weren’t in agreement on who should win Most Improved Player or Sixth Man of the Year. Three different players – Malik Monk, Bogdan Bogdanovic, and Naz Reid – earned votes from the five-man panel for Sixth Man honors.
  • Which NBA players were the most underpaid this season? Despite being on a maximum-salary contract, Thunder star Shai Gilgeous-Alexander tops the list from Frank Urbina of HoopsHype.

Northwest Notes: Reid, Wolves, Murray, SGA, Williams

Naz Reid is making a strong late-season push for the Sixth Man of the Year award, having averaged 19.4 points and 7.1 rebounds on .488/.448/.743 shooting in his past 14 games as he fills in for injured Timberwolves big man Karl-Anthony Towns. After racking up 31 points and 11 rebounds in a win over the Lakers on Sunday, Reid admitted that winning that award is a personal goal, per Chris Hine of The Star Tribune.

“That’s something that I want. I’m hungry for it,” Reid said. “I want that. I think the impact, the record has shown it, our standing has shown it. I want it bad. I’m hungry for it.”

Reid has come off the bench in 65 of his 77 appearances this season — all 12 of those starts have come within the last month, which is the primary reason for the bump in his production. Still, as Hine points out, it’s the mark of an effective sixth man to be able to sub in for an injured starter without missing a beat.

“I think it’s obvious that Naz Reid is the Sixth Man of the Year,” teammate Anthony Edwards said. “We’re the No. 1 team in the West. He’s had multiple 30-point games. He’s the reason we’re winning. He’s a big reason why. KAT went down a little minute ago and we’ve still been able to win, it’s because of Naz.”

Here’s more from around the Northwest:

  • Securing the No. 1 seed in the West would be the “cherry on top” of a terrific regular season for the Timberwolves and would give the team a “huge advantage” heading into the playoffs, according to head coach Chris Finch (Twitter video link via Mark Medina of Sportskeeda). However, no matter where the Wolves end up in the standings, Finch expects a difficult path in the postseason. “It might be the hardest playoffs ever,” Finch said, “so any advantage you can get is going to be a big one.”
  • Nuggets guard Jamal Murray was on a minutes restriction on Sunday in his first game back from various leg injuries and that restriction may continue for the rest of the regular season, writes Bennett Durando of The Denver Post (subscription required). Murray played just 21 minutes on Sunday, though head coach Michael Malone confirmed his limit isn’t actually that low — the star guard wasn’t needed in the fourth quarter since Denver had the game well in hand.
  • In an entertaining feature story for, Ramona Shelburne explores Shai Gilgeous-Alexander‘s evolution into a legitimate MVP candidate. The star guard doesn’t show up on the Thunder‘s injury report for Tuesday’s game vs. the Kings, notes Clemente Almanza of Thunder Wire, so it appears he’ll return after missing four games due to a quad injury. Jalen Williams (ankle), who has also been out for the past four games, is listed as questionable.

And-Ones: Scoring, NBA Cup, 2024 Draft, Two-Ways, Howard

In a memo obtained by ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, the NBA told teams the league office “did not deliver a directive to reduce scoring” during a competition committee call earlier this week, but the post-All-Star break trend “will continue to be monitored.” As Wojnarowski writes, teams are scoring about four fewer points per game on average since resuming play at the end of February.

Slower pace, style of play, competitive intensity, officiating focus have been contributing factors identified so far,” the NBA said.

According to Woj, the league also stated one focus area for the meeting was centered on offensive players “hunting for fouls and veering off paths into defenders.” That has also been a point of emphasis for officials — and a “contributing factor” in the reduced scoring output of late.

Here’s more from around the basketball world:

  • The NBA also informed teams that it was considering a couple of changes to tiebreakers for next season’s NBA Cup, which was called the In-Season Tournament during its debut in 2023/24, Marc Stein reports (via Twitter). Changes under consideration would impact tiebreakers for point differential and head-to-head results, per Stein.
  • Unlike in 2023, when there was a consensus No. 1 overall pick for well over a year, there’s a huge variance in where players are projected to be drafted in 2024, as Michael Scotto relays in the latest aggregate mock draft for HoopsHype. Scotto spoke to several NBA executives to get a feel for some of this year’s top prospects, including Alexandre Sarr, who is ranked No. 1 in aggregate but as low as No. 7. “I think Sarr has everything to his game,” one executive said. “He needs to go somewhere that’s patient with him. He can be a really good two-way player you can build around in two years. I believe in his shooting and shot blocking.”
  • Frank Urbina of HoopsHype ranks the most successful players who have previously been signed to two-way contracts. Austin Reaves (Lakers), Duncan Robinson (Heat), Alex Caruso (Bulls), Naz Reid (Timberwolves) and Luguentz Dort (Thunder) make up the top five of the 15-player list.
  • Former NBA player and assistant coach Juwan Howard has been fired as head coach of Michigan, the school announced in a press release. Howard compiled a 82-67 record in five seasons at his alma mater, making the NCAA Tournament twice (in 2021 and ’22), but the Wolverines went just 8-24 this season and were eliminated in the first round of the Big Ten tournament.

Northwest Notes: Gobert, Wolves, Ayton, Henderson, Sharpe, SGA

Timberwolves center Rudy Gobert picked up an ill-timed technical for making the “money” sign to officials after fouling out Friday night, but he didn’t back away from his accusation that their calls can be influenced by gambling, according to Joe Vardon and Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic.

The technical, which allowed the Cavaliers to tie a game that they went on to win in overtime, came after Gobert was whistled for his sixth foul with 27.8 seconds remaining. He admitted that his reaction was a mistake, but he believes the reasons behind it are justified.

“Mistakes happen. Referees make mistakes, too,” Gobert said. “But sometimes I think it’s more than mistakes. I think everyone that’s in this league knows. I think it’s got to get better.” After saying he expects to be fined for his comments, Gobert added, “I know the betting and all that is becoming bigger and bigger, but it shouldn’t feel that way.”

Gobert has a history of being outspoken about officiating throughout his career, the authors note. Speaking to reporters because head coach Chris Finch was ill, assistant Micah Nori called it “unacceptable” to get T’d up in that situation, no matter how strongly Gobert feels about the subject.

“We just have to be smarter,” Nori said. “I think he made a visual or something, it’s kind of automatic. And we all know Rudy. There’s no more professional guy than him. In that moment, for him to do that, obviously he feels awful about it. We just gotta be a little bit better.”

There’s more from the Northwest Division:

  • Chris Hine of The Star Tribune examines how the Timberwolves can survive without Karl-Anthony Towns, who’s lost for at least four weeks with a torn meniscus. Hine points to Kyle Anderson, Naz Reid, Jaden McDaniels and Mike Conley as players who have to contribute more until Towns returns.
  • The Trail Blazers welcomed back starting center Deandre Ayton and rookie point guard Scoot Henderson tonight. Ayton had been sidelined since spraining his right hand in a February 27 game, and Henderson hadn’t played since before the All-Star break because of an adductor strain. Coach Chauncey Billups said Henderson will start out under a minutes restriction, but will eventually be reinstated into the starting lineup, tweets Sean Highkin of Rose Garden Report. Billups also expressed hope that Shaedon Sharpe can return from core muscle surgery before the end of the season (Twitter link). “This has been tough on him,” Billups said. “He wants to play 82 games. He’s one of those guys. … If he’s healthy, we’d love to have him back. I don’t care how much of the season is left. He’s a guy who needs those reps.”
  • Shai Gilgeous-Alexander believes the Thunder have the talent to compete for an NBA title this season, telling ESPN (video link), “I think we’re capable of anything.”

Wolves Notes: Gobert, Towns, Reid, Alexander-Walker

Rudy Gobert‘s decision to play Saturday with an aching left hip is reflective of the Timberwolves‘ philosophy, writes Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic. Players are held out when they’re injured — Anthony Edwards and Jaden McDaniels both missed the game — but when it’s just a matter of soreness, they reject the idea of load management and find a way to get on the court.

“There’s going to be points in the season where you’ve got to play these types of games,” coach Chris Finch said. “If you’re always resting guys, then you don’t have the resiliency to go battle through that, so I think it’s important.”

Gobert played a vital role in picking up a hard-fought win at Charlotte. He made 10 of 12 shots from the field, including eight dunks, collected 12 rebounds and had three blocks, including a late one on a Miles Bridges shot that helped to seal the game.

“Just being dominant, just being aggressive,” Gobert said. “My teammates did a great job finding me early in the game, and I just tried to be a force.”

There’s more on the Wolves:

  • Chemistry between Gobert and Karl-Anthony Towns was an issue last year, but it has been noticeably better this season, Krawczynski adds. Two of Gobert’s baskets Saturday night came on lob passes from Towns, and Krawczynski notes that Minnesota has a plus-24.3 net rating over its last seven games in the minutes the two big men have played together.
  • Finch brought a new wrinkle to his rotation against the Hornets, per Chris Hine of The Star Tribune. For part of the fourth quarter, the Wolves had reserve big man Naz Reid on the court alongside Gobert and Towns — Finch suggested that they were his best players on the night. Towns posted 28 points, seven rebounds and five assists, while Reid shot 9-of-14 and scored 23 points. “Naz was a huge lift off the bench,” Finch said. “It broke my heart to pull him out, to be honest.”
  • Nickeil Alexander-Walker seemed like a throw-in when he was acquired in the Mike Conley trade in February, but he has become an important part of the Wolves’ success, Krawczynski states in a separate story. Alexander-Walker has been moved at the last two trade deadlines, but he feels like he has found a home. “I want to credit Minnesota as an organization — and Finch — for giving me opportunities to play through mistakes,” he said. “I’ve made mistakes this season and they’ve kept me out there. So now, that confidence, being in the present is resonating.”

Wolves Notes: Edwards, Finch, Reid, Ownership

Anthony Edwards is already one of the NBA’s top players, but he suggested this week that he might want to see how he could fare in the NFL, according to an ESPN report. Appearing with comedian Marco Summers on his “Open Thoughts” talk show, Edwards said “I might be the first one” to succeed in both leagues.

It’s unlikely the Timberwolves would agree to let Edwards risk his future by playing football after signing him to an extension that could be worth more than $205MM over five years. However, it would be intriguing in theory to watch Edwards give the NFL a try after being one of the nation’s best Pop Warner running backs as a youth. While speculating about a football career, Edwards emphasized to Summers that his priority is to “handle his business in the NBA.”

“As a team, [the] Minnesota [Timberwolves] organization, we want to win a championship,” he said. “After that, we’ll figure that out.”

There’s more from Minnesota:

  • The Wolves will eventually face salary decisions and second-apron concerns, but fans should enjoy a team that has become one of the NBA’s best rather than worrying about what might happen in 2024 or 2025, writes Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic. Holding the top spot in the West at 11-3, Minnesota is off to its best start ever and may be a legitimate contender for the first time in the franchise’s 35-year history. There’s a stronger focus, Krawczynski notes, as players who may have overlooked some opponents last season are now locked in every night. “I think it’s very much a serious tone,” coach Chris Finch said. “There’s a conversation about what needs to be done, what they hadn’t done.” 
  • Part of the increased focus comes from resolving financial situations during the offseason, Krawczynski adds. Mike Conley and Kyle Anderson are the only rotation members with expiring contracts, and Krawczyski believes they’re mature enough that it won’t affect their performance. “Everybody’s here to win. Everybody has one goal. Everybody’s got their money situation out of the way,” said Naz Reid, who signed a three-year, $42MM contract extension this summer. “Now we’re here to play basketball and win the game. We’re not really too much worried about anything other than that.”
  • New owners Alex Rodriguez and Marc Lore are negotiating with the Carlyle Group, a private equity firm, to invest in the Timberwolves and the WNBA’s Minnesota Lynx, sources tell Dan Primack of Axios. Primack believes the move will help to quell rumors that Rodriguez and Lore might not have the funding to complete the remainder of the sale from Glen Taylor.

Northwest Notes: Holiday, Reid, Ayton, Scoot, Jazz

Nuggets swingman Justin Holiday will celebrate his 35th birthday before the end of the 2023/24 season and has seen his playing time dip in recent years. While the 11th-year veteran believes he still has plenty left in the tank, he admitted to Bennett Durando of The Denver Post that he has been forced to think about how much longer he’ll play before retirement.

“Have I thought about hanging it up? Heck yeah,” Holiday said. “I mean, I have kids. I have a family. So that thought always comes, especially when you get moved around a lot.

“So yeah, I’ve thought about it. I’d be lying if I said I haven’t. I’ve been kind of forced to. My wife’s had conversations like, ‘When are you gonna be done?’ So it’s not like I’m just sitting here (thinking about it) by myself. I had to actually think about it. And I wasn’t able to give her an answer. I still think I have a lot of playing in me.”

After averaging 30.3 minutes per night for Indiana in 2020/21, Holiday has changed teams five times since then and logged just 15.3 MPG in ’22/23. He’s not in Denver’s rotation to open this season, though head coach Michael Malone has said he values having a veteran like Holiday in reserve to call upon when necessary, as we relayed on Saturday.

Here’s more from around the Northwest:

  • Timberwolves big man Naz Reid, who scored 25 points in 28 minutes in Saturday’s win over Miami, said that he never seriously considered the idea of leaving Minnesota as he neared free agency this summer, per Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic. Reid ultimately agreed to a three-year, $42MM extension just days before free agency began. “I wasn’t going anywhere. I love it here, man. It’s special,” Reid said. “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, you know?”
  • Trail Blazers head coach Chauncey Billups likes what he has seen so far from Deandre Ayton, but admits he’s still getting the hang of how best to use his new starting center, writes Aaron Fentress of The Oregonian. “I told him I’m still learning him,” Billups said. “Still learning his game. Where he can be most effective.”
  • No. 3 overall pick Scoot Henderson is off to a rocky start, making 34.8% of his shots and recording more turnovers (nine) than assists (six) through two games. But the Trail Blazers have no concerns and are prepared to be patient with their rookie guard, as Fentress outlines in another Oregonian story. “You can’t rush experience,” Blazers guard Malcolm Brogdon said
  • Two of the Jazz‘s major weaknesses – subpar guard play and defense – have been on display in the early going this season, according to Andy Larsen of The Salt Lake Tribune. One bright spot, Larsen writes, has been the play of rookie guard Keyonte George, who increasingly looks like he can play a major role on this team.

Northwest Notes: NAW, Reid, Brogdon, Agbaji, Nuggets

In his first foray in free agency, former first-round pick Nickeil Alexander-Walker decided to re-sign with the Timberwolves on a two-year, $9MM deal. Alexander-Walker had bounced around the league in his first four seasons, playing for New Orleans and Utah before being traded to Minnesota in February (he was technically on Portland for one day in ’21/22 as well).

The 25-year-old wing had a strong summer, helping Canada win a bronze medal at the World Cup, and he’s ready to show he’s more than just a defensive specialist, according to Chris Hine of The Star Tribune (subscriber link).

My mentality, now more than ever, has been right,” Alexander-Walker said. “… I’m doing the right things, and I know that these guys are behind me and I’m in a position that I have support and trust and opportunity.”

As Hine writes, Alexander-Walker has been a fill-in starter during preseason with Anthony Edwards and Jaden McDaniels missing time due to injuries. That’s an indication that he’ll be a rotation regular once the 2023/24 season begins, and a “less is more” approach on offense could be the key to staying on the court.

When he first came into the league … he wanted to always play with the dribble, go somewhere and try to do things, and he got himself in trouble doing that at times,” head coach Chris Finch said. “But now he uses his shooting. He’s a high-level shooter. Has a great high release so he can always get it off on people. Now, he’s using that to set up the rest of his game, which is really smart.”

Here’s more from the Northwest:

  • The Timberwolves need to find the best way to optimize big man Naz Reid after signing him to a three-year, $42MM extension before he hit free agency. As Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic details, Minnesota plans to use Reid primarily at power forward in ’23/24, which is a change — he has mostly played center to this point in his career. However, the early returns have been promising, per Krawczynski. “Right before Naz got hurt (he broke his left wrist at the end of the ’22/23 regular season), I thought he found his groove at the 4, really found out what that looked like,” Finch said. “Now, defensively, he’s got to get better and better there, and we’re going to have to help him with some schemes and stuff like that. I think this is all about trying to get your best players on the floor, and he’s clearly in our top eight players.”
  • Trail Blazers guard Malcolm Brogdon, who was dealt to Portland from Boston in the Jrue Holiday trade, says he has no issues coming off the bench again in ’23/24, tweets Sean Highkin of The Rose Garden Report. “I think it’s honestly important for Scoot (Henderson) to get this experience, starting,” Brogdon said. “He’s going to be the franchise player going forward, so he has to be invested in and given that opportunity.” Brogdon won Sixth Man of the Year last season with the Celtics.
  • Jazz head coach Will Hardy wants Ochai Agbaji to focus on improving defensively in ’23/24, particularly on the ball, writes Sarah Todd of The Deseret News. “I would like to see him take another step forward in terms of his isolation defense,” Hardy said of the second-year wing. “Guarding the ball in a pick-and-roll and navigating those screens is a skill and it takes a certain type of athleticism.” The Jazz have until October 31 to exercise their third-year option on Agbaji’s rookie scale contract.
  • Bennett Durando of The Denver Post lists five reasons why the Nuggets will repeat as NBA champions this season — and five reasons why they won’t.