Austin Reaves is repaying the trust the Los Angeles Lakers and head coach Frank Vogel placed in him this year.
Reaves has impressed with his versatility, humility, and hard work since the start of the 2021-22 campaign after landing the final roster spot thanks to strong performance in the summer league and then the preseason.
On Wednesday, the 23-year-old had his moment of the season — and probably his entire career so far — when he struck from downtown in the last seconds of overtime to secure a win over the Dallas Mavericks.
Vogel lauded the Lakers’ front office and scouting department for bringing Reaves’ talents to L.A.
“Rob [Pelinka] and Kurt [Rambis] making the decision to give him that final roster spot this year, our scouting department for discovering his talent and recognizing him as a second-round pick steal and he ends up being undrafted so making sure we get him in the fold, all those things contributed,” the head coach said after the victory over Dallas.
“This is the year-round process of NBA basketball, finding guys like this. He’s been terrific. I told him after the game that was a hell of a shot, but it really was about the whole game that he played. He played great defense, he made extra passes, he competed, and obviously knocked down big shots when the ball was swung to him. So great way to see him get the W.”
Reaves showed a fine form early in the game, sinking two triples in the first quarter. The rookie finished the night 5-of-6 from beyond the arc, spending the whole overtime on the floor.
Vogel said the guard deserved to have his minutes extended after a strong, consistent performance on both ends of the floor that night.
“It was clear, he was just playing exceptional on both ends,” the head coach said. “That’s what we love about him, he’s a two-way player.
“Guys in this league don’t recognize him so they think they can target him, but he’s a really good defender with good length and good feet. So it was an easy decision when he’s defending at a high level, he ends up 5-for-6 from three at a time where we’re deciding whether to keep him in there and he’s playing on a high level on both sides of the ball.”
Vogel: Reaves’ last games confirmed what Lakers saw in him in summer
Vogel pointed out there’s always a calculated risk when it comes to rookies, associated with how well their flashy performance in the summer leagues and mini-camps can translate into a strong and consistent play when a season begins.
But the Lakers’ head coach said Reaves has proved his consistency, praising his ability to shoot the ball, make plays off the bounce, as well as hold up on the defensive end.
“I think the last few performances have shown me what we believed early on when we saw him,” Vogel said.
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