Not even Captain America gets the level of patriotic love recently hailed in the direction of Los Angeles Lakers guard Austin Reaves. The buzz has been loud, but it has been warranted. Last season in Los Angeles, the NBA planet learned of the legitimacy tied to Austin Reaves’ game. This summer in the FIBA World Cup, Reaves has educated the entire planet on his ability to ball.
When the 2022-2023 regular season began, he was expected to fill a large role next to LeBron James and Anthony Davis. As the season progressed that role grew larger and larger, to the extent that many began to ponder how high his ceiling truly was. By the time the Lakers were eliminated from the 2022-2023 postseason in the Western Conference Finals, it had become crystal clear that Austin Reaves is a hooper.
So now that he has proven his case and earned his place in the NBA, can he crank it up a notch from hooper to killer? If his play so far on the global stage is any indication, we are in store for a lot of corpses who met their makers on the hardwood at the hands of HIM.
Austin Reaves is no longer the underdog on the Lakers.
He has completely flipped the script from underdog to arguably underpaid. Despite sitting below 2 other All-Stars on the totem pole, he already has a lot of folks questioning whether he might earn an appearance in February’s annual pickup game of the league’s most prestigious performers. That much of a leap this quickly may seem like a stretch, but there have been no signs that it is unfair to assume Reaves joins LeBron and AD next year in Indianapolis.
He has at times (jokingly) been referred to as the “White Mamba” in the past. Through 2 NBA seasons of seemingly astronomical growth, Reaves has made a name for himself via his overall basketball IQ and unforeseen scoring acumen. His mentality on the court, however, is his primary strength. He is always willing to do the little things.
He is never afraid to back down from a heckler. And judging by the manner by which his actions on the court amplified in the playoffs, it would appear that his bones are not of the rattling fashion. Combine all of those elements, and you have all the makings of a mini-Mamba residing inside the mind of Austin Reaves.
Take a look around the Laker locker room, and you will find a bevy of guys that can really benefit Reaves both as a player and person. His relationship with LeBron has been tight-knit since Reaves joined the Lakers prior to the 2021-2022 season. The two always have glowing remarks about one another whenever the other’s name comes up in interviews, and despite being a Kobe guy growing up Reaves has made it known of his opinion of LeBron as the GOAT.
Whether or not he is the top ball player ever is up for debate, but regardless his presence next to Reaves should only bode well for the young guard down the line. After signing his new extension, Anthony Davis is now officially the future of this franchise. Being that AR15 is still a ripe 25, that puts him in a future cornerstone type of timeline as well.
With those things in mind, these 2 also seem to share a smooth bond on and off the court. If they are the 2 top heirs when James inevitably either departs or retires, fans can rest assured knowing they get along just fine. And we all saw the backcourt connection between D’Angelo Russell and Reaves last year after the trade deadline.
This connection was obvious on the court, but just like the other two pairs previously noted these two seem to share a brotherhood off the court as well. Spanning up and down the team, Reaves has distinguished himself as someone that his teammates can trust as both a player and person.
Reaves is riding a tsunami of momentum at the moment, and things are looking brighter and brighter when we look ahead to the future of his career. But while thoughts of what he may eventually develop into are tempting, it is important that we remain present and appreciate every inch of professional growth we have the pleasure of witnessing in this dude’s young career.
D’Angelo Russell is preparing for his 9th season in the league and does have 1 All-Star appearance to his name, so in theory, he should be the 3rd guy for the team this year. In reality, Austin Reaves is the 3rd guy for the Lakers looking ahead to the 2023-2024 NBA season and there is absolutely no doubt about that.