One of the biggest revelations for the Los Angeles Lakers this season has been the growth of second-year guard Austin Reaves. Last year, Reaves came from nowhere to become one of the team’s most reliable role players and this year he exploded after the All-Star break, pushing his way into the starting lineup and one of the most important pieces for the Lakers as they get set to begin their playoff journey.
But as an undrafted player, Reaves signed just a two-year deal with the Lakers, meaning that he will be a restricted free agent this summer. Throughout these last few years, there have been many young players who have come and gone through the franchise, but Reaves hopes he sticks around for the long term.
In a sitdown interview with Shams Charania of Stadium, Reaves made it clear that he hopes to remain with the Lakers for the foreseeable future:
“Yeah, I want to be a Laker. Obviously they gave me the first opportunity. I was a huge Laker fan growing up, big Kobe fan. Honestly just to be able to play for the Lakers organization is special and I want to be a Laker. So hopefully we can get this done and I can stay there for hopefully my whole career.”
Reaves is one of many young talents the Lakers have found outside of the first round of the NBA Draft recently. Players such as Alex Caruso, Jordan Clarkson and Ivica Zubac among others were all either second-round picks or undrafted like Reaves and the Lakers guard believes this is a testament to the franchise’s scouting department:
“They find talent out of the first round. For example like you said [Alex] Caruso, Talen [Horton-Tucker]. I think Talen is very, very talented and he’s got a lot of ability so just to find him, what did he get drafted? 50s or something? 40s? So it’s really just their attention to detail and they see things in guys that a lot of people might not. So that’s just a testament to their basketball IQ and what they see in a player.”
Now, the whole world sees exactly what the Lakers saw in Reaves when they brought him in after the 2022 Draft. In 23 games after the All-Star break, Reaves averaged 17.6 points, 3.1 rebounds and 5.5 assists while shooting 57.8% from the field, 44.3% from 3-point range and 85.6% from the free throw line. Most impressive, and surprising, has been his ability to draw fouls as he has averaged 6.3 free throw attempts per game over that same time frame. If he could do that over an entire season that would rank in the top 20 of the entire league.
The pressure will now be on the front office to ensure Reaves remains in purple and gold. He will undoubtedly get a ton of interest from around the league and his price has gone way up, but he wants to be a Laker and the franchise will need to lock him down long-term this summer.
Austin Reaves likes Lakers’ chances in the playoffs as long as they’re healthy
Reaves has been one of the biggest reasons for the Lakers being one of the best teams in the NBA over the last couple of months despite dealing with some injuries. And because of that, Reaves believes a healthy Lakers team has a great shot at making a run in the postseason.
“Yeah, for sure. I think since the trade deadline we’ve played some of the best basketball in the league,” Reaves said. “And we’ve actually not been that healthy, we’ve had Bron out at points, we’ve had AD out at points and DLo. So if we’re whole and healthy, we like our opportunity.”
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