The Lakers finished last season with a 26-56 record, which was their second worst in franchise history. However, the team had the best odds to win next year’s NBA championship at 3.5%.
The “1 pleasant surprise for the Lakers early in 2021” is that they will be getting a new star player. The Lakers are now looking like one of the best teams in the NBA. Read more in detail here: laker.
The Los Angeles Lakers are already righting the ship after a difficult start. The Lakers have won five of their last six games, thanks to improved play from Russell Westbrook, blazing shooting from Carmelo Anthony, age-defying theatrics from LeBron James, and All-NBA-caliber two-way ball from Anthony Davis.
Of course, not everything is in order. The Lakers are still juggling rotations and have a number of injured players who will need to be reintegrated at some point. The defense isn’t very strong (see: Rockets shooting 52.7 percent on Tuesday). However, things are beginning to look up.
It’s no surprise that the Lakers are beginning to figure it out. The Lakers spent the entire training camp expressing confidence in their ability to do so. The emergence of Austin Reaves, on the other hand, has been a welcome surprise. In hindsight, maybe we shouldn’t have been shocked.
Austin Reaves’ photo is growing emotionally bonded to me. twitter.com/pjMs4hWSO2
November 3, 2021 — halsey and1 (@halseyandone)
Reaves, a rookie out of Oklahoma, is well-known for passing up a chance to be picked in the second round in order to sign a two-way deal with the Lakers. (In July, they brought him in for a pre-draft workout.) That choice has been wise: the Lakers have had a spectacularly successful recent developmental track record, thanks in part to the Lakers’ established culture of winning and high expectations, which is now being passed down from LeBron.
During Summer League, Reaves struggled with his shooting, and his stats were abysmal. Despite this, he was easily the Lakers’ finest all-around player based on the eye test. His instinctive understanding of the game — positioning, pace, pass placement, defensive foundations, and so on — was obvious.
Austin Reaves has a terrific sense of style. https://t.co/FicqUekLBX
August 5, 2021 — Michael Corvo (@michaelcorvoNBA)
Reaves seemed to impress enough during the Lakers’ pre-training camp trip to Las Vegas to secure one of the two remaining guaranteed roster berths.
During the preseason, Reaves proceeded to open eyeballs and establish immediate folk hero status – and not only because of his spectacular moniker. On both ends, he showed signs of NBA readiness.
After the preseason defeat to the Golden State Warriors, LeBron revealed, “I really studied a lot of video on him before we chose him.” I thought he had the potential to play in the NBA and at this level straight immediately. His stature, shot-making abilities, pick-and-roll play, and passing, as well as his high IQ, all contributed to his success. And he’s got a lot of dog in him, which comes through in our game.”
Austin Reaves, a Lakers All-Star, has some Aaron Rodgers memorabilia (going lefty) https://t.co/vkNaOf49e0
October 25, 2021 — Michael Corvo (@michaelcorvoNBA)
Reaves has already wreaked havoc on the Lakers’ rotation only two weeks into the season (as me and my Lakers Multiverse co-host Cooper Halpern predicted he would.)
But I didn’t expect it to happen so quickly. After missing the first seven quarters of the season, during which the Lakers’ depleted wing rotation struggled terribly, Frank Vogel brought HBK into the game with the Lakers behind the Phoenix Suns by 20 points or more. He instantly contributed to the Lakers’ momentum-building run.
Reaves was off the bench in the first quarter of the following game, their first victory of the season against the Memphis Grizzlies, and saw crunch-time minutes.
With a good seal and forceful finish, Austin Reaves on the money to Dwight Howard.
The Lakeshow is gathering a lot of traction. pic.twitter.com/JXocnH8Lkc
October 25, 2021 — ClutchPoints (@ClutchPointsApp)
Since then, he’s been a fourth-quarter mainstay.
Soon, this will be Austin Reaves’ minutes: pic.twitter.com/D5k8KJTOPt
October 27, 2021 — Michael Corvo (@michaelcorvoNBA)
Last week, Anthony Davis stated, “He comes in and plays incredibly well, hits some shots.” “(He) was smacked in the face once again. He works his way through it. He’s rough and physical. He is not afraid of the situation at hand. In a situation like overtime or the fourth quarter, any rookie might be afraid. It’s the first time he’s had to deal with it in a tight game at the NBA level. He maintained his composure throughout. He’s obviously someone we’ll be able to employ throughout the season.”
Austin Reaves’ involvement in the early stages of the season never fails to astonish me. He played more than 30 minutes last night, including the game’s closing seconds. On either side of the court, he wasn’t terrible at all. There is a participant! pic.twitter.com/yUfqpAZKjX
October 27, 2021 — Scoreboard (@scoreboardUS)
His usual metrics won’t convey the tale statistically (5.0 PPG, 33.3 percent 3-point shooting). However, he is the Lakers’ plus/minus leader, and his on/off numbers are telling.
Austin Reaves and Malik Monk, according to Frank Vogel, “were great” and “a significant part of the victory.”
“Every time his number is called, he comes in there and plays well,” says Reaves.
Vogel praised Monk’s “game instincts” and complimented him for learning up the Lakers’ defensive plan.
October 25, 2021 — Michael Corvo (@michaelcorvoNBA)
Reaves passes the eye test with flying colors, just as he did in Summer League — and for whom he’s most commonly likened, Alex Caruso, another undrafted wing-turned folk hero-turned plus/minus ruler.
He’s evolved into the Lakers’ go-to man and stabilizer, a crucial position for a team in urgent need of it. He’s always in the proper location, keeps the ball moving, spreads out the floor, and plays solid perimeter defense for a team lacking in that area.
Austin Reaves acts as though he’s been here before. twitter.com/fHWUejHTTL
October 27, 2021 — Ricky’s Laker Propaganda Network (@MrRickySpanish)
“On both sides of the ball, he’s been fantastic,” Vogel said. “Teams believe they can target him, but he moves his feet effectively, puts his body in front of the ball, and plays tough in loose-ball situations. He just employs a scruffy persona. For a rookie, I believe the composure with which he plays offensively is very impressive. With his drive and kick, patience in the paint, finding someone else on a box out, and facilitating a couple possessions when we needed a bucket, (he has) created a few scenarios for us.”
Austin Reaves isn’t going anywhere, and the Lakers are better off as a result. They, too, deserve a lot of praise.
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