Even though the Los Angeles Lakers were without a draft pick in the 2021 NBA Draft after trading for Russell Westbrook, the team made up for it by signing Austin Reaves and Joel Ayayi to two-way contracts.
Reaves and Ayayi were widely expected to hear their names called on draft night, but both rookies discussed that it was too appealing to sign with a franchise like the Lakers. Los Angeles, of course, has a knack for developing talent, so Reaves and Ayayi are in good hands going forward.
Lakers fans got a glimpse of what Reaves and Ayayi could do when they played for the Summer League team, and each showed flashes of how they could contribute at the NBA level. Aside from their on-court production, it seems the two have struck up a friendship, and Reaves opened up about him and Ayayi’s relationship via Mike Trudell of Lakers:
It’s been awesome. I knew him a little bit because we played (Gonzaga) in the tournament and they killed us. But he’s a good dude. Genuine. Someone you want to be around. He can make people laugh. And on top of that, he’s a really good basketball player. High IQ. Someone that knows the game, and can see things during games to help others on the floor. Really just being around him is awesome, and I can’t wait to have a lot more time with him.
Ayayi is not the same type of ball handler and shot creator that Reaves is, but he does have solid defensive instincts and knows how to move off the ball to get open and score on easy looks. The Gonzaga product has the potential makings of a 3-and-D wing, and that type of player is invaluable across the league.
Chemistry is an often underrated portion of team-building, and the Purple and Gold know that as well as anyone as their bond as a roster is what helped them win the 2020 NBA Championship. Although Reaves and Ayayi are not expected to play this upcoming season with the parent team, it is encouraging to hear that they are already building chemistry off the floor.
Austin Reaves discusses playing in front of LeBron James, Russell Westbrook
The Lakers’ summer league squad got a surprise when LeBron James and Russell Westbrook pulled up to their game against the Detroit Pistons. Reaves discussed the experience, revealing he was unaware they were there until after taking a seat on the bench.