Fantasy Basketball Waiver Wire Pickup: Timberwolves C Naz Reid

Karl-Anthony Towns (wrist) will miss a chunk of time, which sets Naz Reid up to be a difference maker in fantasy basketball leagues down the stretch.

Minnesota Timberwolves rookie center Naz Reid made his first start of the season Friday night against the Boston Celtics, and he delivered 19 points, nine rebounds, three steals, and one assist. In his second start Sunday against the Denver Nuggets, he had 13 points, five rebounds, one assist and one steal.

Karl-Anthony Towns will be sidelined for at least two more weeks with a fractured left wrist. With 27 games left in the season now, a recovery timeline that extends much longer than that will invite the idea of shutting Towns down and tanking for better lottery odds.

For what it’s worth, according to Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic, Towns “desperately” wants to play again this season and in the bigger picture the Timberwolves are not expected to openly tank.

Reid has scored in double figures in five of his last six games, with at least six rebounds in three of the. He has also posted season highs in minutes over in the two games prior to Sunday. His per-36 minute numbers in his 20 games this season are impressive (22.9 points, 8.8 rebounds, 2.1 assists, 1.3 blocks and 1.3 steals), which points to nice upside as a starter.

The trade of Gorgui Dieng means there’s no one to keep Reid from 30-plus minutes per night while Towns is out.

From Sunday’s game against the Nuggets through the end of business on Sunday, March 8, the Timberwolves will play nine games. Towns might return near the end of that time frame, but its hardly guaranteed. So Reid is in line to start at least the first eight of those nine, in a best-case scenario for Towns to be be back in action.

As of Monday morning, with a recent expected bump in ownership, Reid is available in nearly 81 percent of ESPN fantasy leagues. He is a priority waiver wire pickup this week, with a good possibility he’s a difference maker right through to the end of the season.