Austin Reaves’ Team USA play is a very promising sign for the Lakers

Austin Reaves (Photo by Ted ALJIBE / AFP) (Photo by TED ALJIBE/AFP via Getty Images)
Austin Reaves (Photo by Ted ALJIBE / AFP) (Photo by TED ALJIBE/AFP via Getty Images) /

The first series of games in Austin Reaves’ Team USA career are now officially in the books. The Los Angeles Lakers guard was a vital presence in all of their matchups en route to a dominant 3-0 record in group play.

Reaves was part of the second unit coach Steve Kerr sent out each game, usually taking to the court after the first five or six minutes had elapsed. Though he was not part of the starting five, Reaves was one of the most heavily used players averaging 19.5 minutes per game and even logged a whopping 22 minutes in his debut match.

So what exactly did Austin Reaves do in his first three games?

Reaves finished the first round with averages of 11.7 points, 4.3 assists, 3 rebounds, and 2 steals on an efficient 57.9% shooting. When taking into account the fact that he went undrafted just two years ago and is the only one on the roster that was not selected in the draft, it’s nothing short of impressive.

His stats aren’t just empty numbers in garbage time either. Reaves took to the floor late in the first quarter in his debut game and his impact was immediately felt on both ends. 22 minutes of pure energy led to a 12-point, 6-assist showing to help overcome a double-digit deficit and turn it into a convincing victory.

Against Greece, the same off-the-bench explosiveness was displayed and led to his best game to date. Reaves tallied team-highs of 15 points and 6 assists in a dominant victory. The icing on the cake came at the end of the bout where Austin was handed his first-ever FIBA Player of the Game award.

The role of primary ball handler went to either Anthony Edwards, Tyrese Haliburton, or Paolo Banchero, which gave AR lots of opportunities to space the floor and get open. That doesn’t mean all Austin did was pull up for buckets, as the elite-level playmaking Lakers fans had grown accustomed to from last season was on full display as well. He was a walking highlight reel even on defense, with a little touch of Showtime sprinkled in between.

How does Austin Reaves compare to the rest of Team USA?

Currently, Austin Reaves has the second-highest individual player efficiency amongst all members of Team USA at 16.0, behind only Ant. His 11.7 PPG ranks third next to Edwards and Banchero, while he leads all his 14 other teammates in assists.

The first three games of the FIBA World Cup show just how good Reaves is in his role as an off-the-bench threat. Boasting a well-balanced game built on fundamentals can easily be seen on both offense and defense, which has rewarded him tenfold with the adoration of fans and critics alike.

He may not be the powerful scorer Edwards is, but he doesn’t have to be. He’s already proved that he can more than keep up with the likes of All-Star Anthony Edwards and 2023 Rookie of the Year Paolo Banchero. He even outplayed seasoned players such as Mikal Bridges and Brandon Ingram, both of whom are part of the first five, so a place in the starting lineup soon may just be possible.

If he keeps playing this way throughout Team USA’s entire campaign, then the Lakers have a lot to be excited for in what has the potential to be AR-15’s best season yet.

Next. Realistic expectations for Austin Reaves next season. dark