Exclusive: Austin Reaves Opens Up On Beginning Of His Lakers Career
(Photo by Jevone Moore/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

The Los Angeles Lakers’ scouts found another gem on the outskirts of the NBA Draft in Austin Reaves, whose performance in the 2021-22 season has already proven the extent of his potential.

The Lakers quickly promoted Reaves from a two-way player to a full-time member of the team after observing the Oklahoma product during the preseason. The versatile guard ended up becoming a strong option off the bench in head coach Frank Vogel’s rotation, averaging 5.3 points, 2.2 rebounds, and 1.0 assists in 18.9 minutes on the floor.

Besides his on-court skills, Reaves has proved he possesses an above-average sense of judgment. The 23-year-old told our Trevor Lane in an exclusive interview that, together with his entourage, he was determined to join the Purple and Gold having recognized he would fit well with L.A. — even if it ridded him of the magic moment that hearing Commissioner Adam Silver call out his name on the draft night would have been:

Yeah, we knew going into the draft that the Lakers had an interest. Not so much was like what it was or what the deal was, two-way or whatever, which that’s what it ended up being. But we had a couple opportunities in the second round to have my name called out on draft night, which would have been cool. But at the end of the day, it was all about fit. About somewhere that I could go and be myself and have a good opportunity to make an impact. So my agents did a really good job on their end of mapping out teams that they thought was a good fit and that I had a good opportunity to go in and really, I mean, make an impact. So yeah, draft night was a little frustrating but I had opportunities in the second round — the 40s, 50s — to get picked, but I wasn’t really just about having my name called out. I really wanted to go somewhere that we thought that would be a good fit for me.

Reaves added he managed to impress the Lakers even though he didn’t get to spend too much time on the court during the team’s minicamp in Las Vegas:

Oh, yeah, I mean, we didn’t even really play a lot at the minicamp. We did a little couple of two-on-two, three-on-three drills. We never really slayed five-on-five but it was an opportunity to go down there and meet the guys, get to know them, hang out, go to dinners, and things like that. And really just, I mean, have a good time and learn each other. And then I think it was a Saturday that… that was a Sunday, we was coming back on a Sunday and Saturday night, one of my agents called me and said we needed to get on a Zoom with Rob the next day on Sunday. And me, I was just thinking like ‘Ah, I wonder what that could be.’ Wasn’t really thinking too much in depth about it and then that’s when we got the news that I was in that 14th contract spot. And it was I mean, I’d say the least it was one of the best days of my life.

Reaves has made sure to get the most out of his opportunity to share the floor with some of the best players to ever grace the NBA’s courts. The rookie has revealed he has been asking Rajon Rondo and LeBron James plenty of questions since joining the team.

Rondo said earlier this year the young guard’s curiosity impressed him, adding it shows his knowledge of the game.

Vogel lauds ‘spectacular’ Reaves after win over Thunder

Reaves suffered a hamstring injury that ruled him out of 10 games earlier this season, but it didn’t take long for the guard to regain his place in Vogel’s rotation. About two weeks after making his return on Nov. 28, Reaves scored 13 points in the 116-95 win over the Oklahoma City Thunder — spending nearly 28 minutes on the floor.

Vogel explained he had tried to phase Reaves back into the Lakers’ game plan, allowing him to shake off the rust first following his break from the court. But on the day he entrusted Reaves with heavy rotation minutes again, the rookie impressed the head coach with a fine performance on both ends of the floor.

“He was spectacular tonight,” Vogel said after the game.

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