The Los Angeles Lakers’ summer league team didn’t feature any major draft picks for fans to keep an eye on, but the likes of Austin Reaves, Joel Ayayi, and Mac McClung provided some good outings and victories. Since it’s the Lakers, however, there were still plenty of eyeballs on them, and that included an up-close look for superstars LeBron James and Russell Westbrook.
James and Westbrook showed up during the Lakers’ summer league contest against the Detroit Pistons, the first public sighting of the duo. For players such as Reaves looking to possibly make the roster, this was his first time performing in front of the legendary superstar.
And since James and Westbrook showed up during the game, Reaves didn’t even realize they had shown up. But he eventually figured out thanks to James praising a play he made, as he revealed in an interview with Lakers reporter Mike Trudell:
It’s crazy … in the game, when they walked in, I had no idea they were coming, nothing. So I remember the time now when everyone was going crazy, but I didn’t know what it was at the time because I was playing. But during the game, we were on defense, and someone (on Detroit) shot it from the corner. Another (Piston) was on the block, and he wasn’t checked out, so I went down and cracked him. I heard someone behind me say, ‘Good!’ or something like that. I’m like … I don’t really hear people. But that voice sounds real familiar. Who? So I keep playing or whatever. Then I go to the bench, and I look over, and it’s LeBron and Russ. I’m like, ‘Oh! That’s crazy!’.
It’s just things like that, I mean, the IQ that he has is off the charts. There’s not much else you can say. It’s LeBron, arguably the best player ever. It’s going to be fun just to be around him and four or five other potential Hall of Famers on the team. It’s a great opportunity to go in and just learn. All of them are high IQ guys, done a lot of things and been real successful, so it’s going to be super fun.
As Reaves noted, it wasn’t some sort of highlight-reel play that drew the praise of LeBron, but rather a smart defensive rotation that many young players would miss. He believes this further proves James’ high IQ for recognizing the play:
I do. I think someone rotated, and dude was on the block and nobody was by him, so I went and cracked down. The ball came off hard and someone else got it. And then I heard ‘Good,’ and thought the voice sounded real familiar […] Just a little play. That’s how you know someone has high IQ.
Reaves was one of the more impressive players for the Lakers in summer league, and much of that was due to his high basketball IQ and ability to make plays. James recognizing that should come as no surprise for possibly the highest IQ player in NBA history.
Cade Cunningham believes LeBron James is the GOAT
That Pistons summer league team that LeBron and Westbrook saw face the Lakers featured this year’s top overall pick in Cade Cunningham. The first pick is one of the highest touted in recent memory and even has a little bit of James to his game. Being born in 2001, he grew up watching James, so it should come as no surprise that he considers LeBron the greatest player in NBA history.
Cunningham made it clear that he has watched Michael Jordan and has no issues with anyone proclaiming him the GOAT, but for his money, he will take LeBron. As is the case with many, the deciding factor often comes down to who you grew up watching, and for Cunningham, it was undoubtedly LeBron James.