Undrafted Lakers rookie deserves preseason praise: “Lots of dog in him”.
It’s not that Lakers rookie Austin Reaves has never played alongside NBA talent. While in Wichita state for the first two years of his career, he played with a future NBA player – reserve guard Landry Shamet, now with the Suns.
It’s a long way from Shamet to LeBron James, Russell Wesbtrook and Anthony Davis, but that’s where Reaves found himself Tuesday night during the Lakers’ loss to the Warriors. Reaves played for 27 minutes and scored 10 points in 3v6 shooting, including 2v4 shooting with 3 pointers.
It was the fourth solid game in a row that Reaves released in an ugly preseason for the Lakers. After a shaky debut, he scored 10 points in the second preseason game and nine in game 3. He added eight in the Lakers’ third game. Reaves shot 44.4% off the field and 42.9% off the 3-point line in the preseason.
He was noticed.
“He’s an NBA player and he can play at that level and play at a high level,” Lakers star LeBron James said of Reaves. “I saw a lot of films about him when we were designing him and I knew immediately that he could be an NBA player and play at that level. His size, his shooting ability, his pick and roll game, his passing game. … He’s a kid with a high IQ, and he’s got a lot of dog in him too. “
The Lakers didn’t draft Reaves, however – nobody did. That’s not uncommon for a 23-year-old senior in his fifth year, even after Reaves averaged 18.3 points per game for Oklahoma (he moved from Wichita state two years ago) last season. One of Reaves’ drawbacks was his lack of 3-point accuracy, who only made 27.7% of his 3s in two seasons with the Sooners.
But he impressed the Lakers with his toughness and was signed to a two-way deal that would earn him a shared place with the team and his G-League daughter. After James and the other Team Veterans observed Reaves during the Lakers-sponsored Las Vegas minicamp, the team converted their two-year contract to a fully guaranteed contract.
After Tuesday’s game, Reaves told Spectrum Sportsnet TV of the Lakers stars, “They make the game really easy for the boys, they are known for their pass-first basketball with Russ and LeBron. They make it really easy and are in the right place at the right time and drop shots because they are going to get the most attention at night. So be really ready to put down open shots in the corner and just face each other at the other end. “
With the Lakers’ stacked roster, it’s doubtful Reaves will play significant minutes this year, but he lays the groundwork for a role should the team be hit by the injury virus – as well as a role in the future.
“I ask a lot of questions,” said Reaves. “As I said the other day, I probably ask Rondo something every five minutes so I’m really just trying to be a sponge and learn. I got hit on two or three backcuts tonight and it’s just situations like that, they’re trying to coach me and teach me how to guard it. “
Rondo had an example.
“I mean, today at shootaround he asked about a situation where a guy was coming off a pin-down, is he top-lock?” said Rondo. “And I told him we weren’t doing this, but of course it was a great question that came from (a rookie). He has a great background when it comes to the game. “
At least now he gets the chance to show it off.