Austin Reaves is having a promising preseason that suggests the guard is ready to take a step forward in his sophomore year with the Los Angeles Lakers.
Reaves broke into the Lakers’ main rotation right from the start of his NBA career, emerging as a promising two-way shooting guard. He ended ending up playing in 61 games for L.A. during his rookie year, averaging 7.3 points, 3.2 rebounds and 1.8 assists while shooting 45.9% from the field and 31.7% from downtown.
During the 2022 preseason, Reaves has enjoyed more playmaking responsibilities with head coach Darvin Ham deploying the Oklahoma alum at the point. And in four preseason games so far, the 24-year-old averages double the assists (4.3) and steals (1.0) per game compared to his 2021-22.
In an interview with Lakers Nation, Reaves discussed his role going into the 2022-23 campaign, saying he feels comfortable running L.A.’s offense.
“Honestly, I think it’s just play basketball and, if open, shoot it. If not, you can put it on the floor and make plays for others as well — which I feel comfortable doing,” he said.
“I feel like I’ve done a decent job in the last four preseason games, just showing I have the capability to put it on the floor and make plays for others as well. But at the end of the day, I’m just going to play basketball. I’m going to try to make the best read every time.”
Asked whether he sees himself evolving into the lead ball-handler, Reaves said he would like that to happen. “And I feel like that’s where I’m really most comfortable at,” he added.
“And it’s not even more so like getting an assist. It’s more [about] getting people in the right position, getting the offense started. You don’t always have to make the home run. Skip to the corner might be the pass to the pass.
“It’s just little things like that I think point guards do well, and they control games. Because you don’t always have to get an assist out of it. But you might make the pass that gets someone else open.”
In an example of how he can control games himself, Reaves recalled a situation from Sunday’s victory over the Golden State Warriors when he recognized he should have gotten Kendrick Nunn involved in the next play after Nunn came off the bench in the third quarter.
“I looked at him and was like, you want a touch right now?’ And he was like, ‘Yeah.’ So I just kind of call a play for him to get the ball and so he can get a feel just coming off the bench,” he said.
“I think it was mid-third. Just stuff like that that I really enjoy doing in the game.”
LeBron James praises Reaves’ basketball IQ
Reaves put his vision and playmaking skills on full display last week, dishing out nine assists in a loss to the Phoenix Suns. The Lakers guard’s performance earned him praise from LeBron James, who emphasized his young teammate’s versatility and basketball intelligence.
“Austin can fit in any group,” James said. “A guy who plays extremely hard, plays well, doesn’t make mistakes, always in the right place at the right time. He plays extremely hard.
“His IQ is very high. He fits in any group, and it’s always good to be on the floor with him. I love AR.”
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