One player who recently made a big move for the Los Angeles Lakers is sophomore guard Austin Reaves. In his last four contests, Reaves averaged 17.8 points, 3.3 assists, and 3.0 rebounds while shooting 61.5 percent from the field and 57.1 percent from 3-point range.
In the last three of those games, Reaves slipped into the starting lineup to great effect, with the Lakers claiming wins in all of them. This has obviously left many wondering if Reaves will remain a starter when LeBron James returns from injury, but Lakers head coach Darvin Ham hasn’t said much about whether that will be the case.
“We’ll see,” Ham said when asked if Reaves will remain a starter moving forward. LeBron’s return will obviously push someone into a reserve role, but Reaves is making it difficult for the Lakers coach to knock him out. Reaves’ increased aggression is paying off and he’s become a much better playmaker since last season, along with some improved shooting.
Most important to Reaves is his high basketball IQ and he says he’s just trying to make the right game.
“Like I’ve said many times, and I always say, I’m just trying to play the right basketball,” Reaves said after the Lakers’ 31-point win over the San Antonio Spurs. “Everyone else is doing the same. Everyone on the team has found the right spots. And we did good things and played good basketball. I mean, at the end of the day, I just want to make the right game.”
Against the Spurs, Reaves finished with a season-high 21 points in 7-of-11 shooting and 3-of-4 from 3-point range and made consistent games throughout the night. When asked what had changed for Reaves, Ham pointed out that the Lakers guard no longer hesitates when he attacks.
‘I’m just getting to that,’ said Ham. “Just being more efficient, not wasting dribbles, not wasting time on the clock just holding the ball. As soon as he puts it on the ground, he goes downhill more. If he’s open on kickout, he’ll catch and shoot without thinking twice. He’s defensively rough. Again, him and Lonnie it’s great to have these guys with their physical ability and their competitiveness, what they’re doing on both sides of the ball has been tremendous.”
“But Austin was just a lot more efficient at not wasting time and not wasting dribbles. I just get there, to the action on the second page, to the action on the third page. He’s been one of our best playmakers and he just loves to mature. Whenever he’s out there, you can see his passion shine through.”
In addition to becoming a fan favorite, Reaves has become an extremely important part of the Lakers rotation. Either Reaves, Troy Brown Jr. or Patrick Beverley will have to move to the bench if James returns, and based on recent returnees, the guard has earned his spot in the starters as a sophomore.
Austin Reaves was always focused on ‘playing right’
There may not be one particular skill that Reaves excels at, but he’s solid in every way, and most importantly, such a high IQ player that the Lakers guard hangs his hat most on him.
“Honestly, like I said, I try to hang my hat on the right game, whether I come out and have 15 or six,” Reaves said. “If I play basketball properly, I can go home and sleep at night. Only victory counts.”
With this attitude, Reaves will always find a spot in a roster as he fits into any team and lineup.
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