As evidenced by their ability to send five players to the NBADL All-Star Game this past weekend, the Maine Red Claws are one talented bunch. The team's rotation is, furthermore, filled out by NBA veterans like Andre Barrett and Xavier Silas.
On a team so rich in talent and experience, it may prove difficult for some to standout amongst all the apparent star power.
But after waiting patiently, Maine swingman Omar Reed appears to be breaking through. After having to take a back seat to some of the other talented players on the team, Reed has capitalized on the recent increase in minutes he's been given, and hasn't disappointed. The second year NBADL player is averaging 9.7 points (on 47% from the field and 36% from deep), 6.4 rebounds, and 1 steal in his last ten contests.
"I was patient as I waited for my opportunity to come," Reed said while taking in this weekend's All-Star festivities. "I stayed ready the whole time, so when it came about, I took full advantage of it. Now I'm just trying to do the things I do well."
At 6'6" and 210 pounds, Reed's frame would appear to be that of a norm of a professional basketball player. That said, it's how he uses it and chooses to be aggressive that has been helping him earn quality minutes as of late. Even for a guard, Reed plays physically and likes to throw himself into the mix as he fights for rebounds.
"You have to stay ready," he continued, "because in the D-League, things can change within a matter of simply a week. Guys can leave or others end up getting injured, and you just have to wait for your number to be called. That's what I did. Some things happened, and since then I've just tried to stay consistent and make the best of it."
Reed's been able to succeed alongside the Red Claws' talented core, and his ability to do that is what will truly continue helping him stand out as he hopes to get noticed. He can serve as a threat offensively to spread the floor, and while he's not doing that, he can be seen following shots up as he looks to crash the boards. The swingman said his teammates' collective level of talent allows him to do all the little things with ease.
"It makes everything easier when you have great teammates," he added. "You don't have to be anybody on the team that you're not. I try to bring energy to the team and hustle to grab offensive boards. We have a lot of talented guys, so I only have to do what's asked of me. I don't do too much. I'm just playing my role. Coach is appreciative of that, so he's been giving me more minutes."
As mentioned, the Red Claws have a bevy of NBA veterans now donning their uniform. They all, like Reed, have aspirations of playing in The Association again some day. With so many players vying for that same opportunity on the very same squad, how does a coaching staff balance their priorities with regard to helping get their players to the next level, while also leading the team to victories?
Reed humbly said it's up to the players to get themselves noticed, and that the coaching staff's focus can thus always be elsewhere. "From a coaching standpoint, Coach Taylor's objective to win. You can't really please everybody, but he tries his best. That goes for any choice in the D-League, you just have to focus on winning. As a coach, you want to put your best players out on the court, but in order to not wear them out, you have to have a great bench too. I think that's where I've come in. Guys are playing heavy minutes and we need others to step up. Coach does a good job of finding that balance of great players."
After chatting it up with his coaches and teammates on the All-Star bench throughout the midseason contest, Reed told RidiculousUpside.com that Tony Mitchell may be edged out by Dar Tucker in halftime's Slam-Dunk Contest because the Mad Ants' forward had been playing hard in the All-Star Game before hand. As fate would have it, Mitchell later stepped up the challenge and won anyway.
Reed and the Red Claws will look to resume their winning ways while hitting the road this week for a three-game West Coast road trip.