Lakers rookie Austin Reaves doesn’t fill up the stat sheet like some of his superstar teammates. He does however do many of the little things required to win basketball games. Reaves’s guile and defensive tenacity reminds many LA fans of Alex Caruso - a former fan favorite.
Reaves admitted that he’s tried to emulate what Caruso brought to the Lakers.
“He was very successful. Everybody knows. He made the right basketball play at all times. He did the right things and played as hard as he possibly could. That was something I wanted to do coming in.”
Reaves has made an impact for the Lakers despite missing significant time with a hamstring injury and health and safety protocols. Los Angeles is 14-5 when Reaves is available.
He might not be at the Caruso level yet, but his defense and basketball acumen are in the same zip code.
Like Caruso, the 23-year-old Reaves is focused on two things: defense and hustle.
“I knew we had a lot of talent, a lot of guys that could score the basketball. That aspect of it-play defense and hustle. That was something that I looked at and thought I could bring to the table.”
For the season, Reaves is averaging 20.2 minutes per game and has entrenched himself in Frank Vogel’s rotation. On a team in desperate need of energy and defense, the young guard has brought plenty of both to the table.
Reaves has a team option for 2022-2023 and a $2 million dollar qualifying offer for 2023-2024.
Perhaps this time around, general manager Rob Pelinka will keep a guard around who brings energy and defense.