Without a doubt one of the biggest surprises for the Los Angeles Lakers has been the play of undrafted rookie Austin Reaves.
When Reaves was initially signed to a standard contract by the Lakers, it was believed that he would rarely see the court. But instead, he has emerged into one of the more trusted players on the roster by both the coaches and his teammates.
Reaves has shown time and again that he should be a part of the Lakers’ rotation even when the team is completely healthy. He is a good shooter, solid defender and is an extremely high IQ player who does a lot of the little things on the court.
He had another impressive showing against the Memphis Grizzlies as he and Wayne Ellington nearly led a ridiculous fourth-quarter comeback for the Lakers. Reaves scored 11 of his 16 points in the fourth as the Lakers cut a 24 point deficit at the start of the quarter down to single digits. Afterward, Ellington praised Reaves for the way he plays the game.
“He’s just a super poised player to begin with,” Ellington said. “He always plays the right way, makes the right play. He’s a hard-nosed guy, he’s going to defend. He’s going to do whatever you ask him to do. He can fit in on the court with anybody, that’s just who he is. As a person and as a player honestly.”
Reaves’ skillset is one that meshes perfectly with star players who have the ball in their hands. He understands where to go on the court and always finds himself in the right positions. But he also isn’t scared of the moment or the stage as he showed with his game-winning shot against the Dallas Mavericks.
The Lakers don’t have a lot of role players who can hold their own on both ends of the floor, but Reaves is one of those guys. The team can trust him to adequately defend most players and he will undoubtedly give maximum effort on that end, in addition to his high IQ play on offense.
How Frank Vogel will figure out his rotation once the Lakers are fully healthy remains a mystery, but Reaves will undoubtedly get some well-deserved consideration to be on the floor for this team moving forward.
Vogel didn’t see Reaves becoming rotation player for Lakers this early
Even the Lakers head coach has been surprised by how effective Reaves has been this early on in the season and admits he didn’t see him being a rotation player immediately.
“I definitely didn’t envision him being a rotational player early on,” Vogel said. “Me trusting him was more brought on to me because he was forced into action due to injuries. You get shorthanded and it’s like, ‘Okay, let’s see what he can do.’
“And he excelled in those opportunities to the point where when other guys came back, we still wanted to keep him in there and obviously, he’s been in and out of the lineup too, but he’s just playing really solid basketball on both ends.”
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