Los Angeles Lakers guard Austin Reaves did not waste much time catching the attention of the entire league with how he played in his sophomore season.
In 64 games, starting 22, Reaves averaged 13 points, 3 rebounds and 3.4 assists on 52.9% from the field and 39.8% from 3. Then his numbers would only get better in his first postseason run, taking over contests like Game 1 on the road against the Memphis Grizzlies when he was hitting big-time shots.
When L.A. elevated Reaves from a two-way contract in 2021, it was only a two-year contract and it became abundantly clear that he eventually needed to re-sign with the team. After a lot of rumors and speculation on who was going to challenge the Lakers with an offersheet for the restricted free agent, the Arkansas native signed a four-year, $54 million contract to stay with L.A. this past summer.
Now heading into his third season, Reaves is ready to continue to grow as a player and live up to the contract he was given, proving his haters wrong in the process, via Mirin Fader of The Ringer:
“All athletes, once you get a good contract, you’re looked at to live up to that, which is understandable,” Reaves says. “You’re getting paid that to be successful. And there’s obviously people out there that think I wasn’t worth that. … You hear those things, and you just [get] fuel off of that.”
Playing in the bright lights of L.A. could often be tough for a small-town kid but clearly does not seem to phase Reaves. When playing for the Lakers, there is always a spotlight on the team and critiques get thrown around throughout varying points of the season, but it does not bother Reaves.
He has learned to play off of LeBron James and Anthony Davis extremely well to where James even differs to him to make plays. Since Reaves is with the team long-term, it will be interesting to see how his game evolves and grows throughout this contract.
With seemingly limited years of James being a Laker, Lakers general manager Rob Pelinka still has an impressive core in place with Davis and Jarred Vanderbilt getting extensions and Rui Hachimura signing a four-year contract in free agency. Them, along with Reaves, will be vital pieces for the organization moving forward starting with the 2023-24 season.
Reaves wants to be able to tell his kids he won a championship with James
Now entering his 21st season, James’ time with the Lakers may be numbered. But, with a reloaded roster with improved depth, the goal remains championship for L.A. and Reaves wants to be able to tell his future kids about how he won one with James.
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