Lakers News: Austin Reaves Continuing To Impress LeBron James & Frank Vogel
Alonzo Adams-USA TODAY Sports

The Los Angeles Lakers struck gold with their undrafted free agent signing of Wichita State and Oklahoma shooting guard Austin Reaves. In just half a season, Reaves has become one of the team’s better defenders, while providing an offensive boost with his playmaking.

Recently, he has been able to put his scoring on display as well. Reaves has achieved career-highs for points in both of the Lakers’ last two games. The Lakers guard scored 16 against the Memphis Grizzlies, only to turn around and score 19 points on 7-of-10 shooting just three days later against the Sacramento Kings.

Lakers head coach Frank Vogel explained why Reaves has been in such a groove over the last two games and how he’s benefitted L.A. “He’s playing great, simplest way to put it,” Vogel said of Reaves. “Very confident, very confident in his shooting, when he puts the ball on the deck, he’s got a great computer of reading help and seeing what’s there and he’s a hell of a passer too. So very impressed and pleased with how he’s playing.”

LeBron James had similar words for the undrafted rookie playing in just his 23rd career NBA game against the Kings.

“He doesn’t make mistakes. We don’t look for him to score much, but he’s capable of doing it and it’s definitely a huge bonus for us coming off the bench, especially tonight without Melo. Obviously we needed some punch off the bench and he was on time and on target every time we found him.”

Reaves has quickly drawn comparisons to former Lakers guard Alex Caruso, who is now with the Chicago Bulls. And while the two are different players in a number of ways, it’s also easy to see where the comparison comes from.

Both are playing similar roles with their Lakers teams, providing quality defense and relatively consistent shot-making while keeping mistakes to a minimum. One could argue that Reaves’ offensive ceiling is even higher than Caruso’s, even if the now Bulls guard is a more apt defender.

Hopefully, Reaves can continue to make an impact on winning the way he has during the first half of the season. There are absolutely other factors, but the Lakers are 16-7 when Reaves plays this season and 5-14 when he does not.

Lakers continuing to evaluate Stanley Johnson

One of the things that makes Reaves stand out with the Lakers is the effort he gives on a nightly basis. Another player who has matched that effort is Stanley Johnson, who is on his second 10-day contract with the team. As we near the expiration of that contract, Vogel says L.A. is continuing to evaluate him.

“His toughness, his defensive disposition, the speed, athleticism and toughness that he brings to the defensive side of the ball is sorely needed,” Vogel said.

“Just gives you another elite defender on the floor, but we’ll continue to evaluate him. His attitude has been great, his work ethic has been great and he’s been a pleasant surprise since he’s been here.”

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