Austin Reaves has been one of the bright young assets for the Lakers. His rookie production featured solid contributions alongside LeBron James and Russell Westbrook. Starting the season with rookie Coach Darvin Ham, Reaves believes he is capable of being on the team’s starting five lineups.
“Whatever role they want to give me, I’ll be happy to take,” said Reaves when talking to Shams Charania about his possible personal goals going into the 2022-23 season. ” Try to do that to the best of my ability, but (starting), especially as a Laker with the guys that we have, is cool. At the end of the day, I just want to win and accept whatever role they want me to have.”
With the many injuries the Lakers faced last season, it was up to the then 23-year-old undrafted rookie out of Oklahoma to spark productivity off the bench. Reaves did that as he finished last season with a scoring average of 7.3 points a game on 45.9 percent shooting from the field, 83.9 percent from the charity stripe, and 31.7 percent from beyond the arc.
Reaves also added some highlights to his play last season, most notably stunning the Dallas Mavericks by hitting an overtime game-winner. He finished with 15 points that night and went 5-6 from downtown, the last attempt being the winning shot. The Laker faithful had just been promised a talented young asset, and the hype around him was real, but he still had to prove he had what it takes to play at the highest level.
“Playing with him [James] is very easy,” said Reaves. “He puts you in the right spots to be successful, and for the team, he orchestrates the whole game — To share the ball and these moments with him is very special to me.”
Reaves has shown James he’s capable of the spotlight; in the season finale against the playoff-bound Denver Nuggets, he dropped 31 points, 16 rebounds, and 10 assists. The triple-double mounted another overtime win for the Lakers, and although the game had no implications, it definitely showed what Reaves is capable of.
Reaves enters his second year in the League, and with playoff expectations, as always, around the Los Angeles Lakers, he must prove he has the competitive spirit to perform when it matters most. Growing up a Kobe Bryant fan, Reaves has already been influenced by the challenges in the NBA season, especially when wearing the purple and gold. If he earns a starting spot, Reaves has shown he’s capable of meeting the Lakers’ challenge.