Darvin Ham Praises Austin Reaves For Taking On More Defensive Responsibility For Lakers
Austin Reaves, James Harden, Lakers, Clippers
Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Los Angeles Lakers head coach Darvin Ham has finally settled on a starting lineup featuring LeBron James, Anthony Davis, Austin Reaves, D’Angelo Russell and Rui Hachimura.

The lineup certainly has plenty of offensive firepower, but there were questions about the level at which this group could defend, especially against some of the NBA’s top offenses.

One of the main reasons Taurean Prince and Cam Reddish were starting was due to what they brought defensively to the Lakers as Ham could put them on the opposition’s top players. But in going with this group, a lot of that challenge now falls to Reaves, particularly with the best guard on the other team.

Recent games has seen Reaves do his best to bother the likes of Devin Booker, James Harden and Stephen Curry, and Ham appreciates the effort Reaves is putting in on that end of the court.

“It’s great,” Ham said prior to the Lakers’ victory over the Washington Wizards. “I think it’s a lot of responsibility to be a two-way player and he embraces that challenge. He had some great one-on-one situations yesterday in the game, just his defense on James [Harden], his defense on Norman Powell, he’s competing.

“Same with Rui. Those guys know that in order to set the tone for us in the starting lineup, it can’t be an offensive tone. You have to guard your guy.”

In the same way Reaves has had to take on the task of defending the best guard on the opposition, it has been Hachimura who is often tasked with guarding the top wings like Kevin Durant, Kawhi Leonard and Jayson Tatum. Both have been up to the task at least with their effort and making things tough as it is impossible to stop these levels of talent.

While Reaves hasn’t made the leap that many hoped, he is still finding different ways to impact the game be it with his passing or recently, defensively. With many of the team’s best defenders dealing with injuries recently, Reaves has embraced his role on that end of the floor and Ham is appreciative.

Austin Reaves doesn’t believe Anthony Davis can have bad game due to defensive impact

Since he joined the Lakers, Anthony Davis has been under immense scrutiny and any time he has a subpar offensive game, often receives criticism from all angles. But in the eyes of Austin Reaves, how Davis impacts the game defensively makes it basically impossible to have a bad game.

“So many times, everybody wants to get on AD saying he didn’t play well, slow start, which if you look statistically, it obviously was a slow start for him,” Reaves said after the Lakers’ recent loss to the Phoenix Suns.

“But what he demands on the floor, the attention, the defensive effort contesting shots. Regardless of what shows up on the stat sheet, I honestly don’t think AD can have a horrible half or a horrible game because he means so much to us on defense.”

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