The Los Angeles Lakers are officially in full swing as the team completed its second preseason game of the year on Monday night and picked up its first preseason win in the process. Preseason outcomes do not matter but it is still great for fans to see the purple and gold back in action.
It has been a very promising two games as well. The new-look supporting cast has looked excellent through two games as the Lakers’ depth has been on full display. With LeBron James and Austin Reaves making their preseason debuts on Monday, fans got an idea of just how strong this roster will be.
It can be hard to separate players from the pack as so many played great against the Brooklyn Nets on Monday. But when the dust ultimately settled, there were three players who stood out above the rest, as well as one player who stood out for the wrong reason.
Lakers who stole the show against the Nets:
There has been a lot of talk leading into the preseason about Rui Hachimura and how LeBron James took him under his wing this summer. Hachimura has been working out specifically with LeBron as the former lottery pick looks to take his game to another level this season.
Lakers fans saw some of that work translate onto the NBA court on Monday as Hachimura looked like the best player on the entire team. In 19 minutes logged Hachimura dropped a casual 19 points on 8-14 shooting while going 2-5 from three.
Hachimura probably won’t start for the Lakers but he is going to be such an important bench scorer for the team. If these steps are for real, then Hachimura should be an early favorite for the Sixth Man of the Year award.
There were players who had better games statistically than Jaxson Hayes but Hayes’ performance was the most important. Sure, Anthony Davis had a better night than Hayes but that is to be expected. Fans don’t really learn much when that happens.
Fans did learn something about Hayes on Monday, though, which was great timing after Hayes was a non-factor in Saturday’s preseason loss. The former Pelican logged 20 minutes, scoring 12 points with seven rebounds.
Hayes’ athleticism was on full display in this game as fans started to actually look forward to the two big lineups that Darvin Ham may deploy this season. The exact plan at the center position is still unclear but the Lakers might be in a great spot regardless since Hayes is part of the plan.
The 2023 summer was the summer of Austin Reaves. After showing out in the NBA Playoffs, Reaves represented Team USA in the FIBA World Cup and proved to a lot of doubters that he is the real deal.
Reaves carried that momentum into the fall with a great preseason debut for the purple and gold. In just under 20 minutes as a starter, Reaves scored 18 points on 5-7 shooting while going 4-6 from three and 4-4 from the free-throw line.
The third-year guard has more than proven himself as the Lakers’ third option and there will be nights that LA single-handedly wins because Reaves is on the team. For the first time in the entire LeBron-AD era, the Lakers may have a third star.
Jalen Hood-Schifino is the Lakers player who disappointed vs the Nets
There were a lot of positive standouts from Monday’s game but the one player who was on the opposite side of the coin was Jalen Hood-Schifino. The rookie point guard struggled in this game and it was coming off of a less-than-ideal preseason debut vs the Warriors.
JHS did not find a basket in his 15 minutes played but he did finish with two turnovers and two fouls. Fans got to see some of JHS’ playmaking with his four assists but the knock on his game early on has been that he will be inefficient offensively, especially as a scorer.
This should not worry fans as JHS isn’t meant to have much of a role on this team, anyway. Expecting a rookie to log any significant minutes for a title contender is silly as the vision for JHS has always been a long-term one.
If anything, Monday was just a reminder that fans should temper expectations for the rookie’s role in his first professional season.