3 budding bench players who already deserve to be NBA starters

Anytime one of these three players comes in off the bench, they find ways to impact the game immediately and have made a case that they should be NBA starters.
Los Angeles Clippers v New York Knicks
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2. Naz Reid, Minnesota Timberwolves

Naz Reid got paid like an NBA starter this offseason, signing a three-year, $42 million contract extension to remain with the Timberwolves. The problem for Reid is not his talent, it’s that he currently sits behind two All-Star bigs on the Wolves’ depth chart.

Three-time Defensive Player of the Year Award winner Rudy Gobert was acquired last offseason in a trade that saw the Timberwolves send out five first-round picks in addition to 2022-23 Rookie of the Year finalist Walker Kessler. In other words, the Timberwolves are deeply invested in Gobert to the point where benching him for Reid is not an option.

The same can be said for two-time All-NBA big man, Karl-Anthony Towns, who is owed roughly $70 million over the next two seasons and has a four-year, $222 million contract that kicks in starting in 2024-25. Even with Reid outplaying Towns to start the season, he remains firmly entrenched as the team’s starting power forward.

However, that is not a reason to discredit the contributions Reid has made off the bench. Reid is averaging 13.3 points and 4.4 rebounds per game, shooting 52.4 percent from the field and a highly efficient 42.5 percent from 3 in the Timberwolves' first nine games this season.

With Towns missing most of last season due to a lingering calf issue, Reid started 11 games for the Timberwolves. Reid averaged 16.5 points, 7.0 rebounds, 1.0 blocks, and 1.4 steals per game while making 50 percent of his field goal attempts and 33.3 percent of his 3-point attempts. What Reid lost in efficiency as a starter, he rectified with active hands on the defensive end.

Reid has shown he possesses above-average ball-handling skills and shooting touch for a player of his stature. He has the tools to be a starting big man in this league, he just so happens to be on a team that boasts arguably the best frontcourt in the NBA.