Nuggets coach Michael Malone approached reserve guard Davon Reed with a predictive question.
An ankle injury to starter Will Barton created opportunity for Reed on Monday night against the Golden State Warriors. Malone wondered out loud if the fringe NBA player would take advantage.
“With Davon, I watch him work every day,” Malone said. “I joked with him before the game: You got any shots left in that clip? Because he’s been working so hard and shooting it so well. He goes: Coach, I’m gonna stay ready.”
Reed backed it up in a big way with a career-best scoring effort — 17 points (5 of 7 from 3-point range) — in almost 20 minutes off the bench in a Nuggets victory. But the 26-year-old New Jersey native who starred in college at Miami didn’t boast. He knows better.
“If I don’t play, I’m upstairs after every game getting shots up. I’m getting my work in every day. All I can do is control what I can control by staying ready,” Reed said. “It’s not going to happen like this every night. But shots were able to go in. It’s a testament to the work.”
That dedication has caught the attention of teammates. Reigning MVP Nikola Jokic has witnessed Reed refine his shot on many late nights at the team’s practice gym.
“I always respect that,” Jokic said. “It’s something that shows to me that he cares. That he wants to be here and wants to be part of the team. He wants to get better. He performed well today. He knocked down some threes and played really (well). Just the respect of staying ready.”
The drive to improve Reed’s 3-point shooting was developed out of necessity. Reed has failed to stick on an NBA roster since being drafted (second round) in 2017 by Pheonix. Part of the solution, Reed said, is earning trust behind the arc. He is 30 of 64 from distance this season over 34 games played for Denver.
“The question mark that I kind of found this year was the ability to shoot the three,” Reed said. “I was a 40-percent shooter in college so I’m not quite sure why. It’s always been a lack of opportunity and not really the production. It’s definitely something that’s been underrated. A lot of teams are giving me open looks and I’m grateful for that. Because those are just higher-percentage shots for me.”
Reed, signed on a two-way contract in January, will have difficulty earning minutes when the Nuggets’ roster is back to full health. But the team travels to Sacramento to face the Kings on Wednesday night with the injury statuses of JaMychal Green (knee), Bones Hyland (knee) and Barton still unclear.
It seems that Reed has earned the Nuggets’ trust to provide quality depth.
“He’s a guy who is going to work his butt off every day. He doesn’t need to be pushed,” veteran forward Jeff Green said. “He has a hard work ethic. He’s going to the gym every day. He’s going to make himself better. … You saw it today. The guy can shoot. He can make plays. But he’s always prepared. He comes in every day and he works his butt off. That’s what you’ve got to do at this level. You can’t be complacent.”