In a span of three months, Austin Reaves went from being undrafted to a spot on a historic franchise like the Lakers in a contending year. A projected second rounder, Reaves let teams like Detroit know, that he would rather they not draft him, so he can sign unguaranteed contract with teams instead of being drafted. Talk about betting on yourself.
After signing a two-way deal with the Lakers during the Summer League, he must have made a good impression on the team, as his two-way contract was converted into a guaranteed spot on the Lakers’ roster.
His nickname, Hillbilly Kobe, started to circulate during training camp, and that certainly got a lot of laughs from some of his teammates.
During LeBron James’ postgame interview last Tuesday, he raved about the former Oklahoma Sooner.
“I watched a lot of film on him when we drafted him actually. I knew right away that he could be an NBA player and play at this level. His size, his shot-making ability, his pick-and-roll play, his passing, a high IQ kid and he’s got a lot of dog in him, too, that translates to our game.”
Certainly, getting high praise from someone of James stature is worth taking note. James even laughed at this meme recently that compared the departed Alex Caruso to Reaves.
With the recent injuries to Trevor Ariza, Talen Horton-Tucker, and Malik Monk, that should seemingly open up some minutes for Reaves to start the season. Although coach Frank Vogel was non-committal on if Reaves would play much, he did acknowledge that he liked what he saw from Reaves during the preseason.
“He has done enough to earn my trust. I can say that much. I feel good about everything he does out there. He really competes and knows where to be on a defensive end. The shot making was a concern, and he’s really shown to be a shot maker throughout this preseason,”
Reaves has shown that he is able to knock down the three at a consistent rate (35%), and has also shown an innate ability to be disruptive defensively, especially in the passing lanes. During the six games in the preseason, he averaged about 1.17 steals.
Maybe we will see Reaves only in blowout games, or maybe he will crack the rotation and give some crucial rotation minutes, but don’t be surprised if his role on the team continues to grow on the court.