Los Angeles Lakers guard Austin Reaves’ stint with Team USA during the 2023 FIBA World Cup should be considered a success despite the Americans not medaling.
Reaves may have come off the bench, but he proved to be an integral part of the rotation. Steve Kerr leaned on Reaves to help settle down lineups because he viewed the guard as a natural connector who could fill multiple roles.
However, Reaves did seem to struggle with the bigger and more physical players during the tournament as he got hunted in the post. Lithuania was able to take advantage of Reaves down low, and while the guard admitted that could be a way to exploit him defensively, he doesn’t believe that’s an indication he can’t handle those assignments, via The Lowe Post podcast with ESPN’s Zach Lowe:
“If you go back and look at it, and I think if you have any type of basketball IQ, we were trying to guard everything one-on-one. We didn’t want to give up 3s to be honest. So from day one of the USA stuff, we were basically, I don’t want to say you were on an island, but more so than not you were on an island. And I think the two times they scored on me in the post, both and-ones obviously, I think he took seven dribbles and six dribbles. And that’s just like…me personally, I think I could go post up Bron right now and if I get six dribbles, I’m not gonna say I would score, but I could get to probably wherever I want to go.
“I feel like you could say blueprint’s out, but like with the Lakers and us having a foundation defensively, I know where my help’s coming from, I played that game. Like, I’m not the most athletic guy in the world, I ain’t the quickest guy in the world, but I know our system and where the help’s coming from –obviously having AD helps a lot– but just knowing those little things like where the help’s gonna be, rotations and stuff like that, it helps me. And he had some success in the post and you tip your hat to him.”
Team USA was one of the smallest rosters in the league and with their focus on stopping 3s, it would make sense why Reaves got targeted the way he did. However, with the Lakers he’ll have far more backup which should help cover up any potential weaknesses.
Stanley Johnson believes Lakers are America’s team
Every season, Los Angeles finds itself on national TV every week which is why Stanley Johnson believes the purple and gold should be considered America’s NBA team.
Have you subscribed to our YouTube channel? It’s the best way to watch player interviews, exclusive coverage from events, participate in live shows, and more!