As has been the case basically since the All-Star break, every single game matters for the Los Angeles Lakers down the stretch of this season. One player who has risen to the occasion in a huge way is second-year guard Austin Reaves.
In 16 games since the All-Star break, Reaves is averaging 16.9 points and 5.8 assists while shooting 55.9% from the field and 39.2% from 3-point range. Reaves became one of the Lakers’ primary playmakers in the absence of LeBron James and has now taken over a starting role even as LeBron has returned to the lineup.
Following that first game back for LeBron, Reaves spoke about the Lakers need to now build a rhythm with a full rotation. “It’s obviously great to have him back,” Reaves said of LeBron. “But sometimes when you put someone in [the rotation] and take someone out, it’s kind of hard to get a really good rhythm as a whole unit. And still with D-Lo out, it’s hard.
“We just need to get healthy and like I said, we’re very happy to have [LeBron] back but we just got to get to full health and get a rhythm with one another.”
As Reaves noted, D’Angelo Russell remained out with a hip issue on Sunday against the Bulls so the Lakers still aren’t quite at full strength. But regardless of that, Reaves stressed the importance of the Lakers being focused in these last couple of weeks of the season.
“We know we’re in the spot that we’re in and every game for the last month has been crucial so we take it one game at a time and really just try to win the next game,” Reaves added. “Get a win, and then win the next one. We just need to be real focused from here on out.”
With the Western Conference standings so tight, the Lakers ending the season on a great run could be the difference in them being part of the Play-In Tournament or climbing completely out. At the end of the day, the Lakers simply have to keep getting victories.
“Win. That should be the goal for everybody in the organization, just win,” Reaves said. “Get out and do whatever it takes to win and from there, we’ll figure stuff out after that.”
If the Lakers can indeed get those wins, they will find themselves exactly where they want to be in the postseason.
Austin Reaves wants to remain with Lakers in free agency, but wants to make money
Reaves is undoubtedly playing his best basketball at the right time as the guard is set to hit free agency at the end of the season. Reaves will be a restricted free agent this summer and was honest about his desires.
The second-year guard was open about the chemistry he shares with James and wanting to remain with the Lakers. But Reaves also made it clear that he understands the NBA is a business and he wants to be able to make as much money as possible. Hopefully he will be able to do both with the Lakers.
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