Lakers News: Rob Pelinka Believes Austin Reaves Has Kobe Bryant’s ‘Mamba Gene’
Austin Reaves, Lakers
Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

Heading into the 2023-24 season, Austin Reaves is expected to assume more responsibility offensively for the Los Angeles Lakers.

Reaves showed he could handle a bigger workload in high-pressure moments after breaking out in the playoffs. There was no question that the guard was the Lakers’ third-best player most nights and he is poised to build off that momentum.

When listening and watching Reaves, fans can tell he loves the game of basketball and will do whatever it takes to help his team win. those qualities are why Rob Pelinka proclaimed that he has the ‘Mamba gene.’

“I think Austin’s growth isn’t a surprise to any of us that really scouted him, drafted him and helped develop him to this point,” Pelinka said at a press conference on Thursday. “He uniquely has that sort of Mamba gene, where it’s all about the work, it’s about playing competitive on every play, it’s about being a great teammate, not caring about the personal accolades but just the team winning.

“He exemplifies that, and his growth with Team USA, we’re proud of him, but certainly not a surprise. He’s got tremendous respect from other coaches around the league, other players around the league. Darvin and I spent some time around Team USA, and everybody praises him. I think he doesn’t let any of that get to his head. It doesn’t get him off course. He’s focused on one thing and one thing only, and that’s trying to bring another championship to this organization. So we’ll lean into that type of character, that’s a big part of what we’re, as Darvin said, re-establishing and building here.”

When asked to explain further, Pelinka noted that Reaves stays focused on the game and what he needs to do to get the team where it wants to go. “I think his core qualities line up with the tenants of the ‘Mamba gene.’ We all got to see Kobe’s career and what he stood for and no player can be compared to Kobe Bryant but I think players today can carry genes of what he represented.

“And I think Austin does. He is no nonsense. He comes in the gym, he’s about the work. He’s straightforward with his teammates he’s all about winning. He doesn’t listen to the praise to get big headed. He doesn’t listen to the criticism and get down on himself. “He’s just about the work and I think we saw that in just sort of how he attacked his college career when we talked to him and scouted him. We saw that when we had training camp and he didn’t have a roster spot and he was about his business and he was about showing everybody on the team he belonged. And we saw that just with his growth that he puts in the work. He’s not getting caught up in media rumors about who he’s dating. Or anything else. He’s about the business and he’s about the game and that’s why we love him and that’s why we’re proud that he chose us this summer.”

It’s high praise from Pelinka, who knew Kobe Bryant about as well as anyone, and Reaves has definitely shown some qualities of the Lakers icon during his short NBA career.

Austin Reaves argues Lakers have most talented roster in NBA

Unlike last season, Los Angeles waltzes into the new season with a revamped roster. The depth of the roster is night and day compared to last year’s and Reaves argues that the Lakers have the most talented roster in the league.

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