Not a lot of Los Angeles Lakers fans and analysts could have predicted that Austin Reaves would be making a strong case to be part of head coach Frank Vogel’s rotation during the 2021-22 season.
Reaves has been averaging around 20 minutes per game in the preseason, showing off his skills and talent on both ends of the floor. Moreover, the Oklahoma product has emerged as a viable shooting option, drilling over 40% of his attempts from behind the 3-point line.
Last season, L.A. badly missed a reliable sharpshooter who can inflict damage from downtown. It now appears that they found a player of this profile in Reaves, who himself has likened his game to one of the NBA’s most prolific shooters.
“There’s a couple people that I would say like is playing the right way like Joe Ingles,” the Lakers rookie said.
Utah Jazz’s Joe Ingles boasted the sixth highest 3-point shooting efficiency in the league, 45.1% (among players who averaged over 15 minutes per game). But Reaves says that knocking down open shots is just a part of his overall responsibilities.
“Someone that can do multiple things on a nightly basis that helps his team be successful, but I don’t know,” he continued, describing his role.
“I kind of play an awkward brand of basketball, so really just try to be myself and like I said, do whatever is necessary to help the team be successful.”
Vogel leaped high praise on Reaves for his versatility and all-around game, emphasizing his defensive instincts. Asked about his ability to make stops, the guard said his mindset gives him an edge on the defensive end.
“At the end of the day, I think defense comes down to a mentality and if you really put your mind to it and put your heart on the floor then you’ll be alright,” Reaves said.
“My nature is to be a competitor and having a little dog in me regardless of who it is that I’m guarding. I’m going to give it 110 percent. I’m going to leave it all out on the line. If there’s a big man, I’m going to try to front the post. Try to get a steal or whatever. And as a guard, just give it everything I have.”
Reaves: Lakers’ Big 3 makes the game “easy”
Reaves is fortunate to spend his rookie season in the NBA playing alongside some of the best players in the league, including L.A.’s new Big 3: LeBron James, Anthony Davis and Russell Westbrook.
The 6-foot-5 guard gave credit to the All-Star trio for his strong preseason performance, saying that sharing the floor with them helps him play well as the team’s sharpshooter.
“They make the game really easy for other guys, they’re known for pass-first basketball with Russ and LeBron,” Reaves said.
“So they really just make it easy, you just got to be at the right place and the right time and knock down the shots because they’re going to get most of the attention on a nightly basis.