Development is paramount in the G-League. That’s the slope to the linear equation that you use to plot yourself on a t-chart well after your y lands on the NBA’s plane. But, the purpose of the G is simple, even if blunt–“Why are you any different than the dime-a-dozen that we ignore?” Yes, it’s quite the sharp cut. But, that’s the nature of a business in which there are only 450 employees. Young men who coasted to 30-point, 16-rebound averages in high school find themselves having to prove they deserve as little as NBA workouts. It’s an ego hit for many. But, ego, to an extent, sticks in the NBA. What really matters is how you channel that ego. It would seem Paul Reed, nothing if not confident, understands he hasn’t proven anything yet. In fact, he’s just getting it out the mud.
“In my opinion, the real strength that he has is on two ends.”
To get it out of the mud, though, the underrated has to become the noticed. Blue Coats head coach Connor Johnson has noticed something about Reed, and that something would be Reed’s two-way versatility. “In my opinion, the real strength that he has is on two ends. It’s kind of the versatility on both,” Johnson told reporters after the Coats’ victory over the Stars on Friday night. “Offensively, he can score in a variety of ways. He can score from a variety of distances. He shoots at a high percentage, he’s got great touch around the basket. I think that’s a skill that helps any player, so I think that really makes him tough to guard and tough to match up with.”
Johnson wasn’t done there. “I think, defensively, that his athleticism and his ability to move and cover space has been impressive thus far and those are two great pillars for a young player to have,” he added of Reed. “He’s got a lot of room to grow, but at the same time we have to be very happy with how he’s played in these fourteen games.”
“But, it’s like I got plans on leading the NBA. So, I’m supposed to be doing this.”
Averaging nearly 22 points, 11.5 rebounds per game, 2 assists, 2 steals, and 2 blocks, Reed is understandably confident in his game. If you ask him, it’s difficult to discern a most underrated part of his game. “I think my ability to play-make for my teammates. That’s a good question, actually. The most underrated part of my game [laughs]. What do you think it is?”
Caught slightly off guard by Reed serving the question right back onto my side of the court, we shared a playful, brief back-and-forth.
After the ice was broken, Reed found an answer. “I don’t think people expected me to score the ball as well as I have this far,” Reed said. “So, I could say that’s underrated, for sure. But, in my defense [as in the defensive side of the court, not in defense of himself], being able to guard little guys, big guys, it’s everybody. I think that’s super underrated.”
Given that he fired the question back, Reed doesn’t concern himself with what people say about his game. He simply expects the very best whenever he steps onto the court. “I’m supposed to be doing this [leading the G-League in double-doubles],” Reed said after registering 22 points and 14 rebounds on Friday. “If I wasn’t being a leader in the G-League right now, it would be a problem. So, I’m grateful, for sure. But, it’s like I got plans on leading the NBA. So, I’m supposed to be doing this.”
Evidently, Reed doesn’t view himself as having been underrated or slighted. Instead, the late second-round pick, the G-League assignment, all of it, is just part of his rise. Reed will tell you, he’s just getting it out the mud.