Weight: 245 pounds
NBA Experience: 2 seasons (with actual minutes played)
Key Stats: In 71 games in 2016-17, averaged 5.3 points, 4.7 rebounds, 0.7 blocks, 57% effective field goal percentage, in 14.5 minutes per game with the Miami Heat.
Contract Status: 1 year contract for the veteran's minimum ($1,577,230) for the 2017-2018 season
Expectations: First things first, let's get this out of the way: as we covered back in early August, Willie Reed was previously arrested on a domestic violence charge of misdemeanor battery during an altercation with his wife, covered thoroughly by the Miami Herald here. Days later, his wife stated she would not be pressing charges and that she never intended to involve the police. And that appears to be the end of it. I won't be speculating about the incident, as we don't really know anything and should respect the privacy of Willie Reed and his family. Now, let's talk basketball.
At the ripe age of 27, you might be wondering where Willie Reed got his start. He began by going undrafted in 2011, after which he bounced around the G-League (formerly D-League), occasionally appearing on NBA rosters, but not actually getting on the court. It wasn't until two seasons ago that he found some real playing time with the Brooklyn Nets, followed by a full season with the Miami Heat. Over this someone small 110 game sample size, Willie was very consistent, averaging a double-double per-36-minutes. He even had a handful of standout games, with his best being a 22 point, 18 rebound showing against the Suns; a 22 point, 12 rebound game against the Lakers; and a 20 point, 5 rebound game against the Bulls where he shot 82% and played by far the most minutes on his team. He was a model of efficiency too last season when he got enough minutes to get in rhythm. In the 30 games where he played more than 15 minutes, Willie shot 66% from the field and only fell under 50% 4 times.
With a large frame, a high motor, an ability to use athleticism to score efficiently in the paint, and an inability to do much outside of 3 feet, Willie is the epitome of the modern NBA center, in the mold of Clint Capela, Rudy Gobert, and the Clippers' own DeAndre Jordan. He's the type of player that can be productive and useful on any number of teams, so it's a hell of a luxury that the Clippers have him as (at best) their 9th man off the pine.
Willie is going to be competing for that 9th rotational spot with the likes of Montrezl Harrell and Brice Johnson. Although Brice has been with the team longer than either Willie or Montrezl, Brice is the only one without any NBA playing experience. All three of them are very different players, of course, who just happen to play similar positions in the front court. Montrezl is the fastest, used to playing up-tempo, and is by far the most efficient from the field (he shot 65% last year). Brice is by far the best outside shooter (57.7% during the Summer League, where he mostly shot jumpers). And Willie is by far the largest body and best rebounder of the group (the other two don’t even crack 8 rebounds per-36-minutes).
And that’s the best part about the Willie Reed signing. Besides the fact that we finally have a "Willie" on the team again, he rounds out the diversity of talent at the 9th rotational spot such that Coach Doc Rivers has a full set of tools (and backup tools) to work with this season. No longer is DeAndre Jordan the Clippers' only strong rebounder and large defender to slow down the likes of Rudy Gobert and Karl-Anthony Towns.
Now, I expect that Montrezl will likely get the first nod off the bench, since he was recently featured in the 2016-17 Rockets' playoff lineup and is the least redundant with the starting front-court, but Willie will be right behind him, particularly when DeAndre is in foul trouble. Furthermore, Willie's in a contract year, so he’ll be doing everything he can to earn his big payday. Mark my words, Willie is going to make an impact this season, and we'll soon be chanting for him to be set free.