Lakers News: LeBron James Discusses How Austin Reaves Gained His Trust
LeBron James, Austin Reaves, Lakers
Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

Austin Reaves has been one of the most consistent players for the Los Angeles Lakers this season as when the team needs him to step up in a big way, he has delivered more often than not. This was certainly the case against the Milwaukee Bucks on Tuesday with LeBron James sitting out.

Reaves posted his second career triple-double in a thrilling comeback victory, but of course this isn’t the only time Reaves has come through on a big stage. Most vividly remember Reaves’ coming out party against the Memphis Grizzlies in the first round of last year’s playoffs and LeBron especially remembers as it was the time when Reaves truly gained his trust on the basketball court.

James recently discussed this on the latest episode of his ‘Mind the Game’ podcast with JJ Redick. The Lakers star noted that instilling that level of confidence in Reaves would pay dividends for both down the line:

“It comes with trust. Obviously last year, the Memphis series, AR gained a lot of trust from me, but also I had to trust in him to make the play […] It was either Game 1 or Game 2 in the fourth quarter, I was just like, ‘AR go win it for us.’ I wanted to see.

” […] I feel like I play chess on the floor. I felt like if I could get AR, and instill AR with that confidence in the fourth quarter to make plays and win that game, it was just gonna pay dividends for the rest of my time with him, and the rest of his time when I’m not with him.

“I love seeing the success of my teammates more than anything so to have the ability now to be just like, I pick my spots ‘Hey Dlo you got it,’ ‘AR you got it,’ it means a lot not only for me, but for our ballclub.”

LeBron is of course referring to the Lakers’ Game 1 victory in Memphis last season in which Reaves scored 14 of his 23 points in the fourth quarter, capping off the clinching bucket by yelling ‘I’m Him!’ at the Grizzlies crowd. James continued to give Reaves the ball and let him control everything down the stretch as he was on fire, and he made the right decision.

It’s impossible to win in this league simply relying on stars and LeBron understands that raising the confidence and level of play from his Lakers teammates benefits everyone in the long run. With Reaves and Russell more than capable of being playmakers, it allows for LeBron to conserve his energy and go off when really needed. But you have to earn that trust to get the ball in those situations and Reaves did just that.

Lakers’ LeBron James being strategic in managing games played through ankle injury

Not making things any easier for LeBron James is the fact that he has been dealing with an ankle issue for most of the season. It is causing LeBron and the Lakers staff to keep an eye on everything when it comes to his health.

As such, James admitted to being ‘strategic’ in managing his injury and choosing to sometimes sit out games. LeBron noted that, not only is everyone checking to see how his ankle feeling on any given day, but also they take into account how many days are off between games and other things of that nature before making a decision.

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