The injuries to LeBron James and D’Angelo Russell have robbed the Los Angeles Lakers of their two primary playmakers. Because of this, other players must step up as creators for this team and much of that onus has fallen on second-year guard Austin Reaves.
This was on full display in the Lakers’ win Sunday over the Golden State Warriors as Reaves finished with 16 points and a team-high eight assists with just two turnovers in the 113-105 win. Reaves also had the unenviable task of guarding Stephen Curry for much of his time on the court and Reaves was in awe of how relentless the Warriors star was, especially in his first game back in a month.
“Honestly, I don’t know how he’s in such good shape, with not playing for however long he played,” Reaves said after the game. “Never looks like he’s tired. Always coming off, you know, pin-downs, ball screens. I had a nice block on him and then I think he come off a pin-down hit a three. I think he got into paint for a floater or something. I think he had probably like seven straight.
“So if I could give the block away for him not to score I would’ve. But he’s obviously a really good player for obvious reasons. And it’s just, you try to make it hard for him. And sometimes it works. And sometimes it don’t. But we won.”
Without a doubt, the most important thing on this night was the Lakers coming away with the victory. The injuries to LeBron and Russell make the road so much tougher, but Reaves understands that he and the rest of the Lakers simply have to step up and do more.
“For sure. Obviously, you got Bron and DLo out,” Reaves said. “They have the ball in their hands quite a bit. So you kind of try to fill that void, not just with me, obviously, but other guys as well. I thought Troy [Brown Jr] stepped up and played a really, really good game on both ends of the floor. Shot the ball well.
“But like I said, it’s not just me trying to do what those guys do. It’s more so playing the way that I like to play, the way that I feel can help our team and then everybody else doing a little bit of the same. Pitching in to try to fill that void without Bron and DLo.”
It is impossible for any one person to help fill the void that LeBron leaves and it’s made even tougher when another top player like Russell is out too. But Reaves has stepped up, showing off his growth as a playmaker and it has allowed the Lakers to continue picking up wins in their absence.
Lakers’ Anthony Davis says nothing Austin Reaves does surprises him
Reaves went from a two-way player to an important piece of the Lakers rotation in short order and he continues to show improvements across the board. Reaves does a little bit of everything for the team and Davis is no longer surprised by anything the guard does.
“No. At this point, he does it all,” Davis said of Reaves. “He shoots, he puts it on the floor, he playmakes, he’s tough physically. Nothing surprises me with Austin. He continues to get better and better each and every day, he comes in and puts his work in and he’s just out there having fun.”
Many would call Reaves the Lakers’ most reliable role player and it is obvious that his teammates and coaches trust him in all situations.
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