Welcome to our site Lakers Season Preview Series! Over the next several weeks, we’ll be writing columns each weekday, detailing the biggest questions we have about every player the Lakers added in the off-season. Today, we take a look at Austin Reeves.
If you are a young player in Los Angeles LakersYou probably shouldn’t be too comfortable in the City of Angels.
Since LeBron James joined the squad in the summer of 2018, the team has constantly worked to weed out the prospect of veteran talent. Whether it was switching the so-called Baby Lakers to Anthony Davis in a deal that saw Brandon Ingram, Lonzo Ball and Josh Hart leave for New Orleans, or the recent deal that sent Tallinn Horton Tucker and Stanley Johnson to Utah for Patrick Beverly, the team has consistently shown that they are interested in investing in their present from their future.
Last year, the organization showed that this strategy isn’t just isolated from the trade, as they used their free agency period to sign a group of well-known veterans who had nearly proven they were past the NBA expiration date.
They’ve reversed course a bit this off-season by signing several young players including Troy Brown Jr. (21), Lonely Walker IV (23) and Thomas Bryant (25, who last played for the Lakers as a player). The rookie in the 2017-18 season before being waived to make way for LeBron and a hypothetical second star to sign that off-season).
But unlike Max Christie, who will play his first NBA game in the regular season with the Lakers this season, the team currently has no homegrown talent — well, other than Austin Reeves, of course.
After hitting a rookie wall a bit at the end of a very promising rookie season, the non-manufactured Reaves will look to continue proving that he should have been one of the 60 names named in 2021. NBA Draft.
But most importantly, he will have a chance to compete for a major role on the Lakers team should They have much higher hopes than the results of last season’s roster.
What’s the best scenario for Reaves?
As for Reaves, I’m not willing to single-handedly ceiling him in a “big role”. I agree with Athletic Jovan Poha In thinking he could, and perhaps should, be the team keeper who starts shooting on opening night.
Even after Russell Westbrook played the team’s starting point guard, Boha expected Reeves to open games with the Lakers’ first line. And even if the Lakers trade with him, the current market for potential trades doesn’t seem to include those that take her back to another point. If the team also intends to take Patrick Beverly off the bench, even if they plan to include him in their expected final squad, the Reaves could easily end up being a logical choice for either of the two starting point guards.
A marked improvement in his strength, conditioning and off-season 3-point shooting should help Reaves secure a key role, but given how well he did last year combined with his free agency stint didn’t make for a clear promotion in his position, I think. All this is more than reasonable.
What is the worst result?
The hard thing about assessing the Lakers who were with the team last season and how they’re going to contribute this season is, well…the team sucked last season. Realistic or not, the 2022-23 team will have higher expectations than the results made by the 2021-22 team.
For this reason, it is difficult to say whether Austin Reeves could be a successful NBA rotation player despite the individual successes he enjoyed during the junior season.
The only player who can really affect Reeves’ minutes in a negative way is Kendrick Nunn. Who knows what role Reeves could have played last season if Noone – using the Lakers’ mediocre exception at the time – were able to play it.
If Nunn is healthy and can play as he sometimes did with Miami Heat, he might end up stealing a reasonable amount of minutes that Reaves could have received. Additionally, new signatories such as Lonnie Walker IV and Troy Brown Jr. Better than Reaves in campers. If that happens with Buddy Hield or Bojan Bogdanovic also coming to the team via the Westbrook deal, Reaves could find himself buried deep in the Lakers depth chart in his position.
With that, he may struggle to get more than 10 minutes per game, not to mention his 23.2 average in the 2021-22 season.
What role is most likely for Reaves?
The most likely role for the 24-year-old from Arkansas is somewhere close to 23.2 minutes per game he averaged last season.
The Reaves’ biggest downside was his inconsistent 3-point shot (31.7% last season), but it’s not like Walker, Brown, or any of the other Lakers ocean cues are better shooters compared to the Reaves.
However, Reeves’ defense was actually the most impressive part of his game, giving him a definite advantage over Walker in this regard. In the 2021-22 season, Reaves had D-LEBRON (B-Ball Indicator Defensive Impact Scale) at -0.05 while Walker was -1.85 during his final season with Tottenham. And while Hield or Bogdanovic would be much better than Reaves on a 3-point shot, these two guys don’t come close to playing defense as well as Reaves, who scored -1.70 and -1.44 D-LEBRON last season, respectively.
Reaves calmed down at the end of the season due to his strength and conditioning that wasn’t at a high enough level, which resulted in his overall averages dropping. However, Reeves provided reason for optimism on this front in conversation with him flea, noting that he now weighs 209 pounds, up a dozen from 197 before the previous season. Reeves spoke to his off-season weight training regimen:
“It’s my big focus,” Reeves said. “I go in there every day with good behavior, and whatever they ask me to do, I do. Just putting my body in the best position so the upside down wall or something else doesn’t hit you. And you can push more through that because you’re in better shape and better conditioning.”
If improved conditioning allows him to maximize his impressive IQ and become more consistent with his off-arc shot, Reaves should have at least as big a role as he did last season, even when considering the additions of Nunn and others to the turn.