Paul Reed, PF, DePaul
Weight: 220 lbs
Age: 21 (6/14/1999)
Paul Reed College Stats
Standing at a chiseled 6’9, 220 pounds, Reed has the ideal physical profile for a versatile modern power forward. His mobility on the perimeter is unquestioned as he consistently shadowed guards in pick and roll and isolation possessions while recovering quickly to contest shots all over the floor. He rarely got pushed around in the Big East, a weaker conference but one still filled with NBA talent. He didn’t often back players under the rim, but he was physical on the boards, walled off the paint, and intimidated ball handlers throughout the year.
Reed takes pride in his defense, and when he was challenged this year as a junior at DePaul, he often responded with a big play. What really stands out about him is his ability to quickly process and navigate defensive rotations. He understands where the play is going and where he needs to be in order to prevent it from happening. That kind of high IQ defender often raises the floor for team defenses at the next level.
The ability to get into a stance and not only prevent a drive on a switch but also easily anticipate the shot in the clip above is likely demoralizing for opponents. Reed did this throughout the season with a 3.3% steal rate and 9.7% block rate, the only player in college basketball to hit those benchmarks with his minute load. He had one game with seven steals as well as a separate game with eight blocks. Players that can do both often translate well.
Highlights of Reed can often be seen of him taking rebounds coast-to-coast and finishing with a finesse layup. He posts up, handles the ball, shows flashes of playmaking potential, and is comfortable taking different kinds of shots. His mechanics are limiting (more on that later) but Reed plays like a player that can do everything on the floor.
He can’t do everything quite yet, but players like him with a burgeoning skill set are exceedingly valuable in a position-less era because of a lack of weaknesses. Reed’s ability to fill multiple roles at the next level offensively should be appealing. Need him to play in the dunker spot? Check. Need him to set screens and roll hard to the rim? Check. Post up mismatches? Check. Dribble drive game? Check. Off-ball shooting? Ehhh we will see but I think he figures it out.
There’s a lot going on with Reed’s shot, and not a lot of it looks good.
Despite being a career 33% three-point shooter and 74% free throw shooter in college, I would feel a lot better about Reed’s NBA future if he got with an NBA shooting coach and worked on overhauling his mechanics. The base is very stiff, and starting from that point, the shot almost appears crooked rising from his gather into his release. He clearly has touch, but adding some fluidity and efficiency to his shooting motion will help him stick in the NBA as a do-everything type that can also shoot.
At DePaul, Reed was far and away the best player on both sides of the ball, and naturally, he was often caught overcompensating for that reality with some bad shot selection and bad turnovers. This feels like something that will naturally decrease as Reed transitions into an NBA mind frame with role player expectations. Reducing the amount of possessions he uses overall will likely have a dramatic impact on his offensive efficiency.
Projected Draft Range: Late First, Second Round
Denver Stiffs Big Board: 40th overall
NBA Comparison: Rasheed Wallace lite/Paul Millsap
Why Reed makes sense for Denver
Reed is one of my favorite prospects in this draft class, and for the life of me, I don’t understand why he isn’t higher on consensus big boards. NBA teams often search for floor raising prospects on the defensive end of the floor to surround their stars but don’t want to lose out on the offensive potential in the process. Reed brings the best of both worlds. He will fill in the gaps for players around him by ranging far and wide defensively. He will also be a jack-of-all-trades type offensively that, if he learns to shoot, could very quickly become an incredibly valuable player in a rotation or even a starting unit.
Nuggets fans: stop me if you’ve heard that before about Paul Millsap rather than Paul Reed. Denver’s incumbent starting power forward showed his age in the playoffs but also showed why he was so valuable alongside Nikola Jokić and Jamal Murray throughout his three seasons in a Nuggets uniform. He began as a second rounder out of Louisiana Tech but quickly became a quality rotation player, then a starter, then an All-Star, then a sage veteran throughout his career.
For me, it’s easy to see Reed following a similar path and therefore easy for me to make the case for the Nuggets drafting him as high as 22 in this draft.
Why Reed doesn’t make sense for Denver
If the Nuggets believe Michael Porter Jr. is best served as a power forward in the future, then it’s possible that Reed isn’t the right player for Denver to take a chance on this year. Maximizing opportunity and talent is very important for maintaining the pipeline of talent, and if Denver sees this draft as an opportunity to add an on ball defender with more of a wing build/play style than Reed, then it’s completely justifiable.
But even if the Nuggets see Porter and Reed as players who could play together long term defensively, the Nuggets might not see Reed as the level of shooter they need next to Jokić and Porter going forward. Every position has to shoot at the NBA level except for specific circumstances, and for the Nuggets and Jokić, incoming players must have the ability to play both inside and outside to complement what Jokić does.
If Reed can’t be a shooter, he may not stick at the NBA level.
When I started watching film on the NBA Draft this year, Reed was the first player that I watched that stood out to me as a star caliber talent. He isn’t the only star caliber talent, but his tools, skill set, and blend of foundational skills and pop skills stood out as somebody who was drastically underrated because of his situation and could turn into something completely different at the NBA level.
The Nuggets may or may not use the 22nd pick this year. They may or may not acquire a second rounder. No matter what happens though, if they come out of draft night with Reed on the roster, I will be happy. He still has more to show after some time with an NBA developmental team, and I could see him making a major impact in his first couple of seasons.