Lakers News: Mikal Bridges Praises Austin Reaves’ Ability To Draw Fouls
(Photo by Joe Murphy/NBAE via Getty Images)

Los Angeles Lakers guard Austin Reaves’ ascent from undrafted rookie to bonafide NBA starter has been rapid. And by securing a place on the Team USA roster for the World Cup, he has only further proven he belongs in conversations alongside starting caliber and even All-Star level players in this league.

Another player who saw a similar ascent — on a lottery pick scale — is Brooklyn Nets star Mikal Bridges. Bridges went from No. 10 overall pick to one of the game’s elite role players to getting the keys to the Nets franchise in 2023.

And Bridges, primed to make his first All-Star team in 2023-24, quickly saw great things in Reaves when they teamed up for the World Cup. Bridges solidified Reaves’ ascent with a simple but defining phrase, according to Dan Woike of The L.A. Times:

“This ain’t no underdog s— no more,” Brooklyn’s Mikal Bridges said of Reaves. “He’s here.”

Bridges then went into detail on what he likes about Reaves’ game specifically, and the skillset that separates him from a lot of players in the NBA:

“I’ve been a fan. … I think the biggest thing about him I like is that he knows how to draw a foul,” Bridges said. “He knows how to create fouls and get to the free-throw line and that’s like a skill. He’s not just getting there. There’s a skill to that and it’s very underrated. People don’t really understand it but the ones that do, they know how tough it is to guard.

“That s—‘s an art.”

Reaves was no stranger to the free throw line during the 2022-23 season. He averaged 4.1 attempts per game, which on the surface appears to be low, but a deeper look shows he was among the NBA’s best at getting to the line.

Reaves had a free throw rate — number of free throw attempts per field goal attempt — of .541. That figure ranked eighth in the entire league among qualified players and was first among guards, slightly ahead of Shai Gilgeous-Alexander. Only 11 qualified players in the NBA had a free throw rate above .500.

Bridges, meanwhile, had a free throw rate of .279, putting him in the 90th position out of 245 qualified players. Despite having a free throw rate at about half of Reaves’, he was still in the top half of players in this category, further showing how elite Reaves is at getting free throws.

Reaves aiming for championship with Lakers

Reaves spoke about the upcoming Lakers season and was in favor of bringing back the core of a team that went to the Western Conference Finals last year. And he believes that a championship is well within reach, making it his main goal of the season.

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