Austin Reaves is breaking out for the Los Angeles Lakers at the right time and arguably had his best game to date as a professional, leading the team to a win over the Orlando Magic on Sunday night.
Reaves scored a career-high 35 points, with 13 of them coming in a tightly contested fourth quarter. The Magic were threatening to steal the game when they tied things late before Reaves was able to find ways to score.
Most of Reaves’s production came at the free throw line where he also set career-highs in attempts (18) and made free throws (16). The second-year guard revealed after the game that he’d studied players like James Harden and Trae Young on how to get to the line.
“Like I was talking about, it’s a learning curve. I mean, you can obviously watch games and people in the past. James Harden. Trae Young when he comes off-ball screens and people are trying to fight over because he’s such a good playmaker, floater shooter that if you get it going early that they got to try to contests, so you can pick spots here and there to use their speed and energy to try to get back in front to draw a foul like that or stuff like that. I mean, I’ve watched James Harden you know, like I said, Trae. Two masters at that. Kind of tried to put it into my game.”
While Harden and Young might draw the ire of opposing fans for their foul-baiting, there’s no denying that they are two of the best players in the NBA at initiating contact and getting to the line. Reaves has somehow managed to draw more shooting fouls than LeBron James and Anthony Davis, a sign that his studies have definitely paid off.
The league has placed a heavy emphasis on shots at the rim and 3-point shooting, but drawing fouls and going to the charity stripe is another source of valuable scoring. So far, Reaves has shown he’s adept at all three of those things which bodes well for his upcoming free agency where he and the Lakers are reportedly interested in a long-term deal.
Anthony Davis knew what type of player Austin Reaves could be
An undrafted free agent in 2022, not many people would have expected Reaves to become such a crucial piece to the Lakers so soon. However, Davis said he knew early on what kind of player Reaves could be.
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