Austin Reaves Expresses Confidence That Lakers Are One Of Best Teams In NBA Right Now
Austin Reaves, Lakers
Kiyoshi Mio-USA TODAY Sports

Austin Reaves may not have taken the huge leap many had hoped he would this season, but he has still been a very reliable and consistent player for the Los Angeles Lakers. That was again the case on Sunday night as Reaves finished with 19 points, six rebounds and four assists in the Lakers’ 120-109 win over the Minnesota Timberwolves.

Most importantly is that the Lakers are finally beginning to look like a team that can do some damage in the postseason. They have won back-to-back games against two of the top teams in the NBA and are 12-5 in their last 17 games.

Questions persist as to whether the Lakers can truly compete with the best the league has to offer, but in the eyes of Reaves, they are absolutely one of the best teams in the NBA when they play the way they’re supposed to.

“I believe it,” Reaves responded when asked if the Lakers are one of the NBA’s best teams. “Regardless of where we stand, if we go put our best foot forward and play the basketball that we know we can play, I think if you ask anybody coming in here or wherever we’re playing, it’s not easy. But we just got to keep our head down, keep doing the right things and keep playing the right way. Because the more repetition you have doing that, the more easy it is to continue to do that.

“Instead of having these hiccups like the second quarter against Sacramento, we continue to play the same way as we played in the first and you would believe that you win that game. But I think if you go ask anybody in our locker room, we’re super confident in what we have.”

The Lakers have maintained all season long that they believe in roster they put together and no one can argue that, at times, the Lakers have shown they can compete with anyone. Wins like these last two against the Timberwolves and Milwaukee Bucks, not to mention recent wins over the Oklahoma City Thunder, L.A. Clippers and New Orleans Pelicans are proof of that.

But the Lakers still have things they need to clean up. Turnovers were an issue against Minnesota as they gave away the ball 19 times with Reaves and LeBron James committing four each. But the guard felt their struggles their served as a reminder that the Lakers needed to seriously lock in.

“Yeah, for sure. You go into every game hoping that you play a perfect game,” Reaves added. “That’s not realistic, but from start to finish, you want to dominate the game. I felt like there were spurts in the first three quarters that we looked really good and then spurts that we didn’t.

“Like you said, going down one to start the first isn’t ideal, but it’s still a situation for us to go win a basketball game. I feel like that’s what we did, we competed really well defensively in that fourth quarter and just grinded that one out.”

The Lakers held Minnesota to just 17 fourth-quarter points as they showed once again the level they can reach defensively. But that needs to be a consistent theme for four quarters if the Lakers truly are one of the best teams in the NBA as Reaves believes.

Austin Reaves credits Lakers assistant Phil Handy for dribbling improvement

Even with LeBron James and D’Angelo Russell performing at such a high level, the Lakers still run offense through Reaves often, allowing him to be the primary creator on many possessions. Many have taken notice of Reaves’ improved ball-handling that allows him to operate that way and he noted that his workouts with a specific Lakers assistant has helped.

“I workout with Phil Handy,” Reaves said when asked about his improved dribbling. “I’m sure you’ve seen a couple of his workouts. But it’s really just trying to take the opportunity that the defense allows. He was trying to jump over the screen on the one, so the spin was there. But yeah, it’s really just kind of instinctual. But it’s fun basketball.”

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