In a year full of disappointment for the Lakers, guard Austin Reaves has been a source of excitement. The undrafted rookie out of Oklahoma has installed himself as a critical piece of the Lakers roster.
The most critical piece of the roster, LeBron James, has been on a tear since mid-December. When asked to comment on the play of LeBron this week, Reaves gave James the ultimate compliment.
“The stats show for itself and he does way more than the stats show. In the locker room, on the bench, consistent talking us through situations. He’s the best player to ever play.”
Since AD went out on December 17th, LeBron is leading the league in scoring (34.2) thanks to a ridiculous 55.5% field goal percentage.
Reaves’ comment was strictly voluntary. It came out naturally as the 23-year-old patiently answered questions after he scored a career high 19 points in the Lakers deflating 125-116 loss in Sacramento.
Fitting in on a NBA roster is hard enough. Fitting in on a roster loaded with future Hall-of-Famers makes it even harder.
Reaves has done it seamlessly.
He missed seven games in December and returned on New Year’s Eve. Reaves is shooting 37.5% from three and 60% from the field since he was activated. He has yet to commit a turnover.
Like grizzled veteran Trevor Ariza, Reaves main contributions usually don’t show up in the box score. His toughness and defensive intensity are sorely needed on a team struggling to find their equilibrium.
Reaves is thriving in his role playing alongside “the best player to ever play”.