Lakers News: LeBron James Credits Austin Reaves For Being Effective Despite Shooting Poorly
(Photo by Adam Pantozzi/NBAE via Getty Images)

Austin Reaves entered the 2023-24 season as arguably the third most important player on the Los Angeles Lakers behind superstars LeBron James and Anthony Davis. He received a fresh four-year contract, a new signature shoe and spent a summer with Team USA in an effort to propel his game to the next level. He is seen as one of the favorites for Most Improved Player.

But his first five games have seen one major issue: his field goal percentage. He is shooting 34.5% from the field and 21.1% from three through his first five games, a stark drop off from the efficient numbers he posted during his first two NBA seasons. But the year is still young and Reaves is coming off of the longest year of his basketball career.

James is confident that Reaves will eventually get his legs back under him and return to the shooter he was last season. But more importantly,. he credits Reaves for finding ways to be effective despite the poor shooting.

“What I’ve seen as someone that had a long playoff run and then played a lot of basketball in the summer,” James said. “Take a little bit for his legs to get back underneath him but the competitiveness and what he brings to our team goes without question so he can care less if he’s not making shots because he does some of the other things on the floor as well.

“I mean, even tonight, he didn’t shoot like he would like to shoot and didn’t make any of us threes that he’s accustomed to making. Still chipped in with eight boards and seven assists. Timely shots down the stretch. Big-time three steals, so he’s still a big-time player for us. He’s one of our key guys, and we need to play well even if he doesn’t make shots, and that’s what makes him really good because he doesn’t need to make shots to be effective.”

What Reaves brings to the court with his defense and intelligence makes him a vital player to the Lakers success even with a field goal percentage in the mid-30s. Of course, he’ll need to eventually get back on track so defenders are still forced to guard him on the perimeter, but for now, this appears to be a typical case of a fatigue-related slump for a young player.

As the season progresses, look for Reaves to continue doing what he does on defense and with the ball in his hands while the shot eventually starts to fall.

Christian Wood emphasizing crashing glass

Although it’s been only five games, the Lakers role players seem more than comfortable starring in their role, a defining characteristic of the 2019-20 championship team. Take Christian Wood, for example. He has made it an emphasis to crash the boards and his change in mentality led to a game-icing putback dunk against the Clippers.

“It’s funny that you say that. DLo was telling me the possession before that if it comes to you, shoot it, and if it doesn’t, just go rebound, just crash as hard as you can. You got 10 rebounds, you’re gonna need one more. That really factored in my head when I went to go get the rebound and I saw nobody box me out so I went for the dunk.”

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