Austin Reaves Explains Why He Chose To Go Undrafted & Sign With Lakers
Austin Reaves, Lakers
Alonzo Adams-USA TODAY Sports

In just two years, Austin Reaves has gone from undrafted guard, to two-way player, to a rotation member, to one of the most important players on the Los Angeles Lakers today. After an outstanding second season, Reaves was rewarded with a new four-year contract and is one of the core members of the franchise’s present and future.

It’s an amazing story that will only get better from here. Reaves is part of the Team USA squad that will compete in the FIBA World Cup this summer and his role with the Lakers is expected to increase next year as well.

But Reaves’ story could have been very different had he been drafted, which was a real possibility. In an appearance on the All The Smoke Podcast with Matt Barnes and Stephen Jackson, Reaves revealed that he could have been drafted that year but he and his agency told teams not to do so in order to get himself in a better position for his career, via Showtime Basketball:

“It feels great. Like I said everything comes full circle and all I needed was an opportunity and I knew that. I knew what I was capable of doing. You know the skillset, the IQ, stuff like that. So it was really just about my agency putting me in a good position to have all of that. We could’ve got drafted 42nd to Detroit but kind of declined that to kind of put me in L.A. for a better spot.”

Reaves would continue on, explaining the strategy he and his agency put together, noting that they ranked the teams in terms of which is best fit him and where he would have the best chance to make the roster, and the Lakers were very high:

“So basically, we tiered teams, best fit for me. And L.A. was I think two on the list at the time, Milwaukee might have been one, but they were Tier 1… It was, like I said, really trying to put me in a position to be able to get a roster spot. We knew that there was a high interest for a two-way so we didn’t really have to press. That’s what everything in the draft would’ve been from 42 and on would’ve been basically a two-way agreement. So we didn’t have to press and I didn’t really have to hear my name called either. Obviously I wanted to, but it was all about playing the long game.”

This is something that has become a bit more prevalent recently as players who are on the cusp of being drafted sometimes prefer to go undrafted, and it is for the exact reason Reaves described. In going undrafted, a player has the opportunity to choose his situation and put himself in the best position to thrive and Reaves did exactly that in joining the Lakers.

Had he gone to Detroit or some other team that didn’t have the infrastructure or opportunity, Reaves could have found himself still on a two-way, in the G League or maybe out of the NBA entirely. But thankfully, he bet on himself and both he and the Lakers are benefitting from it.

Lakers coach Darvin Ham expects Austin Reaves to be an All-Star soon

Someone else who believes in Reaves is Lakers head coach Darvin Ham, who has some high hopes for his young guard. In fact, Ham believes its only a matter of time before Reaves makes an All-Star team.

The Lakers coach said that Reaves playing in the FIBA World Cup is the first step towards this and added that he believes Reaves will be an All-Star at some point soon.

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