Last year, the Los Angeles Lakers scouting department did it again with undrafted rookie Austin Reaves turning a two-way contract into a guaranteed one and emerging in the Lakers rotation, emulating Lakers fan favorite Alex Caruso.
While Caruso walked onto the scene before gaining playing time progressively, Reaves jumped on the scene immediately. A game-winning 3-pointer against the Dallas Mavericks last December turned Reaves into an instant folk hero. He impressed the team throughout the season and started games as the months went on.
At 24, Reaves still has parts of his game in need of development. His 3-point percentage hovered over 30% for the season. His defense earned him extended playing time from Frank Vogel, but at 6-foot-5 and a shy under 200 pounds, Reaves sometimes was hunted on that side of the ball.
After deciding to skip the Summer League, Reaves has focused on putting on weight this offseason, according to Jovan Buha of The Athletic:
Reaves doesn’t have a specific weight goal to hit, but he’s bulked up from his preseason listed weight of 197 lbs. to 209 lbs. now.
“It’s my big focus,” Reaves said. “I go in there with a good attitude every day, and whatever they tell me to do, I do. Just putting my body in the best position so the rookie wall or whatever, it doesn’t hit you like that. And you can more push through it because you’re in better shape and better conditioning.”
The rookie wall is no secret in the NBA as the frequent traveling and games take a toll on a player’s body.
For Reaves, he suffered some fatigue as the season wore on, prompting Vogel to keep him on the bench momentarily. While Reaves said after being benched he wasn’t fatigued, he admitted after the season he did hit that rookie wall.
A year into the league teaches you how to prepare for the grueling schedule, leading to a jump as a sophomore. Reaves isn’t letting fatigue be the excuse for his declined play though:
“Probably a little bit of everything,” Reaves said. “I’ve never played a season over 37 games – 40 games at max. So I played 61 games this year, but the 82-game season, and I was traveling still when I wasn’t playing. So it’s definitely a thing.
“But honestly, at the end of the day, I felt like there was not an excuse for me missing shots. I gotta make shots, even if it’s late in the year, early in the year, whatever it is. I have confidence in myself, with all the work that I’ve put in, to make shots in those situations.”
He’s already been putting work with young players on the Lakers, highlighting his desire for improvement. Reaves will likely be a consistent figure in the rotation next season.
Juan Toscano-Anderson believes skillset translates to any team
A day into free agency the Lakers brought in high-energy forward Juan Toscano-Anderson. The Oakland native is keen on making an impact on the Lakers next season, emphasizing his versatility on the floor.
“To be honest, without sounding arrogant, I think my skillset translates to any team,” Toscano-Anderson said. “I think what I do is so versatile that I can fit on any team. I think I can guard 1-5, I’ll do whatever it takes to win.”
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