Before the season, there was a lot of talk around the Timberwolves related to the role of Karl-Anthony Towns. Towns was making a position switch to power forward in order to accommodate center Rudy Gobert joining the roster.
Naz Reid had to make a similar change. If Reid wanted to carve out playing time while on the bench behind two All-NBA players, he had to adapt.
Reid said that adaptation has been a "roller coaster."
"Guarding different players and positions. Learning plays from different positions. It's very different actually," Reid said. "It's something I've got to get used to."
Towns' indefinite absence because of a right calf injury will likely allow Reid to slot into minutes primarily at the center spot in relief of Gobert.
That is generally a good thing statistically for the Wolves. According to the website Cleaning the Glass, there is a stark difference between Reid's numbers at power forward and at center.
Reid has played 28% of his minutes at power forward and the Wolves have a net rating of minus-15.8 points per 100 possessions in those minutes.
When Reid plays center (72% of his minutes), they have a net rating of 2.8.
"I wouldn't say I can't play the four," Reid said. "It's just something I'm used to and it's a big role I'm going to be in within the next couple weeks. I'm excited to be in that role and excited to help our team."
Reid is averaging 7.9 points in 14.5 minutes per game, which is 1.3 minutes less per game than he was playing a season ago. It has been important for Reid to see the floor not just because he wants to play, but because he's also in a contract year and is setting himself up for a pay day in the offseason.
More minutes could equal more money. From that perspective, it can be frustrating for Reid when he doesn't play, and guard D'Angelo Russell said he and others have been trying to keep encouraging Reid to be ready when he does get time.
"It's not going to be easy. He's playing [behind] two dominant bigs who have dominated our league for a long time," Russell said. "So for him to get an opportunity is going to be hard. He's just got to be ready."
Russell said Reid has an opportunity right now. "He knows that. Just staying in his ear, trying to stay positive and keep reminding him don't let this opportunity slip."
Reid, who had a career-high 18 rebounds Saturday against the Thunder, is doing everything he can to stay on the floor. Against Oklahoma City, he said he was battling a sinus infection and he hit the floor multiple times. An opponent even pulled his hair on one play. He was hunched over in pain a lot, but he stayed in the game.
Coach Chris Finch has commended Reid's professionalism throughout the season, even as Reid's minutes have fluctuated.
"I know he's frustrated as a young player trying to come in and prove himself, build his career resume, earning potential, all that," Finch said. "But he realizes last year it was a 16- minute role for the most part. This year, the role could be a little bit all over the place."
But likely not for the next few weeks. The Wolves are going to need Reid to play at a high level if they are going to win enough games with Towns out to stay afloat in the Western Conference standings.
For the next few weeks, he won't have to worry about his playing time. It will be there, and it will mostly be at his more favored position, backing up Gobert.