The Los Angeles Lakers went right to work following the conclusion of the 2021 NBA Draft in scooping up some of the best undrafted players available. Following the team’s acquisition of Russell Westbrook, the Lakers were left with no draft picks and chose not to trade into the second round, but they may have added some players just as good, if not better than many of those selected.
The first player the Lakers signed to a two-way deal was Gonzaga’s Joel Ayayi, an ideal 3-and-D wing. But the Lakers wanted some variety in their two-way players, and their second signee is a much different, though no less intriguing prospect.
According to ESPN’s Dave McMenamin, the Lakers agreed to sign Oklahoma’s Austin Reaves to a two-way contract after the NBA Draft concluded:
The Lakers have agreed to sign shooting guard Austin Reeves to a two-way contract, according to league sources. He split his college career at Wichita State and Oklahoma.
— Dave McMenamin (@mcten) July 30, 2021
While Ayayi was more of a role player off the ball in college, Reaves was a flat-out scorer and playmaker for Oklahoma as a redshirt senior. Reaves 18.3 points per game for the Sooners ranked second in the Big 12 conference trailing only top overall pick Cade Cunningham. Additionally, Reaves also added 5.5 rebounds and 4.6 assists on his way to an All-Big 12 First Team selection.
Reaves isn’t the best athlete but is excellent at using his ballhandling and body control to get where he wants and is a capable finisher at the rim with either hand. Though he wasn’t a great deep shooter in college, he has shown improvement, especially in catch-and-shoot situations, which is always important on a team with LeBron James, Anthony Davis, and Russell Westbrook.
Like Ayayi, Reaves is an older prospect which would seem to suggest that he is closer to contributing on an NBA level than most others. But for the Lakers, the likelihood of him making any serious impact as a rookie would seem to be slim as they look to win a championship in 2022. Regardless he will undoubtedly be a player to watch on the Lakers’ Summer League team.
Lakers sign Gonzaga’s Joel Ayayi to two-way contract
Just before the news of Reaves signing with the Lakers came down, it was reported that the team had signed Gonzaga wing Joel Ayayi to a two-way contract as well. The First Team All-WCC selection has a lot of potential as a 3-and-D player.
Ayayi shot just under 39% from three-point range, is a solid defender, and is used to playing off the ball after being on a team with first-round picks Jalen Suggs and Corey Kispert.