Austin Reaves is a player that has quickly become a fan favorite within the Los Angeles Lakers fanbase. His story has been very fascinating to watch, to say the least. In 2021, Reaves had the opportunity to get drafted by the Detroit Pistons but instead, he elected to bet on himself and join the Lakers on a two-way contract.
So far through two years, it appears the gamble both sides took has paid off as he’s blossomed into an integral part of the Lakers rotation. In 16 games this past postseason, he averaged 16.8 points, 4.6 assists and 4.5 rebounds per while emerging as a viable third option alongside LeBron James and Anthony Davis.
This impressive display of performances earned him a four-year $56 million dollar contract in free agency to remain with the purple and gold. Now heading into year three Reaves has already been making an effort to further improve his game as he’s currently playing for Team USA.
Austin Reaves’ versatility has stood out on Team USA and it’s earned him praise from players around the league. Team USA teammate and Nets star Mikal Bridges said “This ain’t no underdog s- no more, he’s here.” Former Laker Kyle Kuzma also showed love to Reaves and tweeted “AR is such a good basketball player.” The 25-year-old is continuing to make a name for himself and has his sights set on bringing another gold medal back to his Country.
The jump from year one to year two for Reaves shouldn’t go unnoticed. He went from averaging 7.3 points, 3.2 rebounds and 1.8 assists per game, while shooting 45.9% from the field and 31.7% from three to averaging 13 points, 3 rebounds and 3.4 assists per game on 52.9% shooting from the field and 39.8% from three.
Head coach Darvin Ham thinks that Reaves is a future all-star in the making. On Chris Haynes and Marc Stein’s podcast “#thisleague UNCUT” Ham stated the following:
"“He’s our starting two guard. I think there’s a lot more levels he’s going to get to before it’s all said and done. He’ll be an All-Star and world champion with me in the room with him.”"
Can Lakers’ Austin Reaves make the jump to all-star this upcoming season?
The Lakers reportedly running more of the offense through Austin Reaves next season will not only give him more of an opportunity to create for himself but it’ll also give him more of an opportunity to create for others.
In the playoffs there were instances in which Reaves ran the offense allowing for LeBron James to play more off the ball. With James heading into year 21 it’s ideal to take some of the ball-handling responsibilities off his hands and put them in the hands of a young rising star like Reaves allowing LeBron’s body to stay relatively fresh for the postseason.
As promising as Reaves is, the chances of him being an all-star this upcoming season are slim to none. Reaves is a good playmaker, high IQ player, and efficient perimeter scorer that will only get better but the talent at the guard position in the West is simply overwhelming.
The Western Conference is loaded with elite guards such as Stephen Curry, Luka Doncic, Damian Lillard, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, De’Aaron Fox, Anthony Edwards, Ja Morant, Devin Booker, and Paul George. All of these players are either the primary or secondary option on their respective teams and draw a great deal of attention from opposing teams’ best defenders.
As for Reaves, he doesn’t draw the same attention because of his role which makes it easier for him to produce offensively. SGA made his first all-star appearance this past season averaging a career-high 31.4 points and 5.5 assists per game. Ja Morant made his second straight all-star appearance averaging 26.2 points and a career-high 8.1 assists per game.
De’Aaron Fox had arguably his best season yet as he averaged 25 points, 4.2 rebounds and 6.1 assists per game and was an all-star snub. Reaves would need a massive leap to reach these numbers and even then, it may not be enough.
With all that being said, it is hard to see a path for Austin Reaves to become an all-star. However, fan voting does account for 50% of all-star starter votes and with the Lakers having arguably the biggest fanbase in the NBA, Reaves could potentially be an all-star reserve if someone was to get injured.