Lakers News: LeBron James, Darvin Ham Discuss Austin Reaves’ Growth & Growing Role
Austin Reaves LeBron James Lakers
Alonzo Adams-USA TODAY Sports

Austin Reaves is continuing his steady progress, building on his strong rookie season with the Los Angeles Lakers.

Just like last year, Reaves keeps delivering on the defensive end — but notably, he also significantly improved his offense. His scoring average has increased from 7.3 points per game last season to 10.9 in 2022-23. He’s also shooting 54% from the field and 39.7% for three, with both numbers jumping up by about eight percentage points since last year.

The 24-year-old produces regardless of whether he starts in games or comes off the bench. Reaves returned to the starting lineup in the win over the Portland Trail Blazers after leading the second unit in the previous three games. And he ended up with 22 points, five rebounds, three assists, a block, and a steal in another highly-efficient performance.

“He just got back to what he was doing last year,” LeBron James says of Reaves.

“And his role continues to grow on this team. We trust him. He knows I trust him. And he goes on to play his game, and that’s a beautiful thing to see, especially for a young player to see his growth from one year to the next.”

Lakers head coach Darvin Ham emphasizes Reaves’ competitiveness and passion for basketball, allowing the guard to excel even though he went undrafted just two years ago.

“I mean, just a high, high competitive spirit along with a lot of skill,” Ham says.

“Austin [Reaves] is just… I played with a guy like Austin before in college, and he just loves to hoop. Constantly working on his game, added to his game, can score at three levels, and was huge for us tonight.

“Just a smart defender and really versatile offensive player. Can do a ton of things on that end.”

Anthony Davis says Reaves has been ‘doing it all’ for Lakers

Anthony Davis has pointed out Reaves’ improved playmaking, saying the Lakers trust the guard with handling the ball and running pick-and-rolls. Davis thinks that makes the sophomore a dangerous weapon on offense.

“He’s been doing it all,” Davis said of Reaves after the win over the Spurs in late November. “All three levels. He’s in the paint with his shot fakes, getting to the line. Shooting the 3-ball. Handling the ball on pick-and-rolls and making the right reads.

“So he’s been playing unbelievable for us, making all the right plays and his confidence is very high right now.”

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