Things happen quickly during the NBA offseason. The draft took place only a few days ago and in less than a week teams will begin their verbal pursuit of NBA free agents, including this summer’s hidden gem, Willie Reed.
"I think July is the busiest time of year… we anticipate being very active and continuing to try and improve our roster."
If Ainge’s superstar pipe dream doesn’t pan out, he should go after Willie Reed.
Reed is a 27-year-old center out of Saint Louis University, listed at just under seven feet and coming in at about 220 pounds.
His size and mobility, coupled with an innate sense of spacing, lend to his exceptional rebounding ability. These factors also help him alter and block a lot of shots.
Reed is unpolished on the offensive end, with most of his points coming after offensive rebounds or off drive-and-dish plays. His range doesn’t extend much further than a few feet, with about 76 percent of his made baskets coming right at the rim. On the plus side, he’s shown a soft touch on short push shots from a variety of angles around the basket, an encouraging sign for interested parties.
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Reed has been overlooked throughout his career. He went undrafted in 2011 and bounced around the basketball world for four years, mostly making appearances on D-League teams. He signed his first deal with the Nets in 2015, then played for the Heat in 2016.
It was only during his stint with the Heat that Reed started to get recognition, proving himself time and again in exceedingly limited playing time. In only five starts for the Heat, Reed averaged nearly 15 points, eight rebounds, and just under two blocks per game.
He also posted this incredible performance against the Phoenix Suns, dropping 22 points and gathering 18 rebounds.
Playing behind Hassan Whiteside meant that Reed couldn’t, and likely wouldn’t, get consistent minutes. As such, he decided to opt out of his contract and test his value on the market.
From a general manager’s point-of-view, Reed is a low risk, high reward type player. Ainge and the Celtics could sign Reed for a fraction of what big name players are going for, and bank on Reed playing to, or exceeding his value.
At the very least, he’ll grab rebounds and block shots. If Reed can get consistent minutes at the center position, it seems likely given his insatiable work ethic that he’ll develop into a really talented big man, capable of controlling the defensive and offensive paint.
Alex Kennedy shares a similar sentiment:
"It’s clear that [Reed] still has untapped potential and he could elevate his game if put in the right situation with some guidance."
The Celtics could, and should, be the right situation.
There’s a Reed-sized hole at the center position, they’re in serious need of a guy who can rebound the ball and protect the paint, and under the watchful eye of Brad Stevens, Willie Reed could very well tap into that potential and become a budget Derrick Favors.