With 2014 prospect Trayvon Reed taking a visit to the University of Maryland on Wednesday, I figured what better time than now to break down the parts of his game that make him such a coveted recruit. Reed, the #4 center and #68 recruit according to 247Sports.com’s 2014 rankings, has had an interesting runaround with Maryland.
Late last week, reports stated that Reed announced his commitment to Maryland, despite having never actually been on campus. Then, reports stemming from his camp stated that he had not, in fact, committed. The mix-up was largely assumed to have arisen from Reed having not visited campus yet, and that Coach Turgeon (as well as his handlers) felt it would be a wise move to at least check the university out first.
Enough about his commitment let’s talk about what the 7’1 center out of Marietta, Georgia can do on a basketball court, shall we?
Strengths: Height, Athleticism, Wingspan, Passing Ability, Blocking
With Reed, people tend to veer immediately toward his height and wingspan as being the two best assets that he has at his disposal. At 7’1 with arms that seem to go on for days, there is certainly some truth to that. Reed may indeed be very thin for a center, but he embodies the saying “vertically imposing” in every sense.
The type of players who can go inside against Reed and not have their shots drastically altered are few and far between. During virtually every game I watched Reed play (four in total), his opponents were almost completely forced to become perimeter shooting teams because of his presence down low. If an athletic guard or forward attempted to take it down low, they’d have to perform some impressive acrobatics to get it around Reed.
That’s the effect a legitimate 7-footer can have on the court, and that’s what Reed is all about. Reed is, put simply, a rim protector. His size allows him to block a fair amount of shots, sure (although I would love to see his per minute stats in that regard), but it’s the ones he alters that really make him a valuable commodity.
It also helps that, the majority of the time Reed is on the court, he’s running the floor and running it incredibly well for a guy his size. If Maryland fans thought Alex Len ran the floor pretty well, then wait until they see Trayvon Reed. He does get tired just like every player his size does, but he moves with swiftness and speed. One of his strides is the equivalent to about three of the average person. There’s no stiffness in his trot whatsoever.
Still, the one thing about Reed that really stood out to me was his ability to pass. Reed may be stunted offensively for the time being, but because he has such a great grasp of touch passing, he can still be an integral part of an offense. Outlet passes on the fast break off rebounds, touch passes to open shooters on the perimeter, out of double-teams, you name it. I’m not sure why a lot of scouting reports don’t harp on this aspect more often, because in my eyes it’s his biggest strength. Rare are big men who can read a defense and hit an open cutter accurately more often than not.
That in and of itself will make Reed a valuable element on most rosters. You can run plays through him in the post to find open shooters, and he protects the rim relatively well for his size. I really liked watching the ball move through him, even if it meant he wasn’t always looking to punch his own number. And it’s not even that he’s a super creative passer, it’s that he’s a smart player who understands where guys are on the court and doesn’t try risky or stupid passes. That trait is something that coaches have an incredibly hard time teaching, and it’ll serve him well in the future.
As far as rebounding goes, I suppose in theory it’s a strength for Reed. He is so much longer than most people he plays against that it’s almost a certainty that he’s going to pull down boards, but his body positioning is still a work in progress. Because he’s so thin, even guards can push him out of the way in the post and knock his footing out. If Reed adds some more pounds, there’s no doubt in my mind that trying to rebound over him would be a futile effort, but until then he has to continue to be more aggressive.
Weaknesses: Offensive Game, “Intensity”, Very Thin
The downside of Trayvon Reed is that he weighs slightly more than your average shooting guard. Reed is skinny enough to warrant some concern as to whether or not he can become a truly effective post player in the near future and the long-term. He is a 200-pound center, and that certainly raises some eyebrows. There’s a chance he could come into college weighing even less than both Nerlens Noel and Len, as he’s about 20-pounds lighter than either. With his frame, I’m sure there’s more weight and strength to add, but the question is how much.
That ties in a lot with his offensive game, unfortunately. Because of his weight, Reed has a hard time establishing himself on the block. He gets pushed out by almost every defender he faces, and doesn’t really make himself an option down low. Reed has the athleticism to score on just about anyone with a decent post move (and he has shown flashes), but getting that opportunity requires good positioning.
His touch around the rim isn’t really in question, although there were a few gimme layups that Reed missed due to very little physical contact. It didn’t take much for defenders to make him miss. On dunks and putbacks, Reed is slightly more effective, but because he doesn’t have great rebounding positioning and isn’t playing angles incredibly well, those opportunities don’t happen as often as they should. A guy like him should probably be scoring eight to ten points a game on putbacks alone.
I’ve yet to really get a look at his jumper, but I can imagine he could develop one given that he shoots about 80% from the free throw line. That touch doesn’t just go away eventually.
I think a lot of people confuse Reed’s intensity with his inability to position himself well; I didn’t see a player with a bad motor, I saw a player who failed to properly position himself to grab rebounds. Reed tends to slow down towards the end of the first half and the end of the second half, but what big man doesn’t? He’s out there the majority of the game, running up and down the court with ease — that’s going to tire anyone out.
But with Reed’s time on the court, I’d love to see him get a lower center of gravity on the offensive side of things so he can score on a lot more putbacks. It appears that he hasn’t really been taught proper boxing out on the defensive end of things, and as a result he has a much harder time getting even more rebounds. That itself is teachable; throw on Dennis Rodman or Kevin Love highlights.
He also really has to work on his core body strength, as that can help him absorb some of the contact more easily and not be forced out of the paint by being pushed in the back.
Reed clearly has work to do on the offensive end of things and in the weight room, but his upside is monstrous at this point. There aren’t many 7-footers who can run the floor with his fluidity, and there are even fewer who are innately able to pass well. I really enjoyed watching him make the right plays most of the time, even if he wasn’t as aggressive as I’d like offensively.
Having incredibly big guys who block shots gives you some very good intangible benefits on the court. Having that much protection around the rim forces teams to take stupid shots and tends to alter the ones they do take down low. Reed offers a lot of that, and I can see very clearly why Turgeon is so high on the kid.
If you have to choose between Reed or Onuaku, you’re going to end up happy with both. Onuaku may be more ready to play right away, but as a prospect Reed has a lot going for him. They are two very different players, and it really comes down to what you want out of a center. Do you want rim protection and fast break points? Or do you value good one-on-one defense and gritty play?
Below is a game with Trayvon Reed and the Atlanta Xpress, and I’ve highlighted some of his plays so you can quickly go through them:
Block at 1:46
Dunk at 2:16
Missed oop at 4:29
Bit on pump fake 6:13
Good vision 7:10
Great vision at 9:43
Missed putback 16:06
Nice vision at 16:11
Nice rebound at 16:13
Rebound and outlet pass at 16:50
Block-ish at 20:06
Contested shot at 21:05
Block to stop fast break at 24:22
Missed layups at 1:04
Contested shot at 5:45
Dunk at 5:56
Rebound at 8:27
Rebound and pass at 18:05
Layup at 21:55