On a team that added Russell Westbrook and Carmelo Anthony to the championship duo of LeBron James and Anthony Davis, one of the more pleasant surprises throughout the preseason for the Los Angeles Lakers so far has been the play of undrafted rookie Austin Reaves.
The Oklahoma guard has shown exactly why the Lakers chose to sign him to a regular NBA contract and give him their 14th roster spot as opposed to a more well-known commodity.
Initially, Reaves was signed to a two-way contract by the Lakers following the draft. But after what he did in Summer League, and impressing the team during the summer with how he looked in workouts around the practice facility, the team chose to upgrade that contract. He also made a great impression on the team itself during their minicamp in Las Vegas prior to the start of training camp and James took notice.
LeBron said Reaves showed he could be a player at the NBA level, something James believed when he watched college film of the young guard.
“That’s he’s an NBA player,” LeBron said when asked about what Reaves showed in Vegas. “He can play at this level, play at a high level. I watched a lot of film on him when we [signed] him actually. I knew right away that he could be an NBA player at this level. His size, his shot-making ability, his pick-and-roll play, his passing. High-IQ kid and he got a lot of dog in him, too. That transfers to our game.”
It appears the adoration is mutual. “He’s a bull. That’s why he’s the greatest player ever,” Reaves said of James after Wednesday’s practice.
In 27 minutes against the Golden State Warriors on Tuesday night, Reaves finished with 10 points, three assists and two steals. With many Lakers missing the game due to injury, Reaves got the opportunity to play with all three of the Lakers’ superstars and he took advantage of it.
In fact, James, Westbrook and Rajon Rondo could be seen throughout the game looking for Reaves when he was open, showing even further how much trust he has already built up with the team. Minutes will still be hard to come by for the Lakers rookie, but LeBron and the rest of the team clearly believe he has the skills to stick around in the league, and fans are getting behind him as well.
Reaves talks benefits of playing with Lakers’ Big 3
To get the chance to play with players like James, Westbrook and Anthony Davis as a rookie in the NBA is truly something that no one could ever dream of. Reaves has that opportunity and understands that his role with them on the floor is easy as they draw so much attention away and are such willing passers.
“They make the game really easy for other guys, they’re known for pass-first basketball with Russ and LeBron,” Reaves added. “So they really just make it easy, you just got to be at the right place and the right time and knock down the shots because they’re going to get most of the attention on a nightly basis. So really just be ready to knock down open shots in the corner and just compete on the other end.”
Have you subscribed to our YouTube channel? It’s the best way to watch player interviews, exclusive coverage from events, participate in live shows, and more!