One player who has stepped up in a big way recently for the Los Angeles Lakers is second-year guard Austin Reaves. Over the last four contests, Reaves is averaging 17.8 points, 3.3 assists and 3.0 rebounds while shooting 61.5 percent from the field and 57.1 percent from 3-point range.
The last three of those games have seen Reaves slide into the starting lineup to great effect with the Lakers getting victories in all of them. This has obviously led to many wondering if Reaves will remain a starter once LeBron James returns from injury, but Lakers head coach Darvin Ham didn’t offer much insight on whether that will be the case.
“We’ll see,” Ham said when asked if Reaves will remain a starter moving forward. LeBron’s return will obviously push someone to a reserve role, but Reaves is making it hard on the Lakers coach to take him out. Reaves’ increased aggression is paying off and he has become a much better playmaker since last season, along with some improved shooting.
Most important for Reaves is his high basketball IQ and he says he’s just trying to make the right play.
“Like I’ve said many times, and I keep saying, I’m just trying to make the right basketball play,” Reaves said following the Lakers’ 31-point victory over the San Antonio Spurs. “Everybody else is doing the same. Everybody on the team found the right spots. And we’ve been running good stuff and playing good basketball. I mean, at the end of the day, I just want to make the right play.”
Against the Spurs, Reaves finished with a season-high 21 points on 7-of-11 shooting and 3-of-4 from 3-point range and just continually made plays all night long. When Ham was asked what has changed for Reaves, he pointed to the Lakers guard no longer hesitating when attacking.
“Just getting to it,” Ham said. “Just being more efficient, not wasting dribbles, not wasting time on the clock by just holding the ball. Once he puts it on the floor, he’s driving downhill more. When he’s open on the kickout, he’s catching and shooting, not thinking twice. He’s scrappy defensively. Again, he and Lonnie, it’s great having those guys with their physical ability and their competitiveness, what they’re doing on both side of the ball has been huge.”
“But Austin has just been way more efficient in terms of not wasting any time, wasting any dribbles. Just getting to it, getting to the second-side action, third-side action. He’s been one of our best playmakers and he just loves to hoop. You can see his passion shine through whenever he’s out there.”
Reaves has not only become a fan favorite but an extremely important part of the Lakers’ rotation. Either Reaves, Troy Brown Jr. or Patrick Beverley will have to move to the bench when James returns, and based on recent returns, the second-year guard has earned his spot with the starters.
Austin Reaves always focused on ‘playing the right way’
There may not be one particular skill that Reaves is exceptional at, but he is solid in every facet and, most importantly, is such a high IQ player which is what the Lakers guard hangs his hat on most.
“Honestly, I try to, like I’ve said, hang my hat on playing the right way regardless of if I got out and have 15 or six,” Reaves said. “If I play basketball the right way, I can go home and sleep at night. The win is all that matters.”
With that mindset, Reaves will continually find a place on a roster as he can fit with any team and any lineup.
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