On Sunday, Lithuania beat Team USA in a FIBA World Cup game by a final score of 110-104. Early on in the game, Lithuanian star Vaidas Kariniauskas scored a basket against Los Angeles Lakers guard Austin Reaves and taunted him afterward.
Reaves later addressed getting taunted by the Lithuanian player.
Updated 🇱🇹 all-time greatest players list:
— FIBA Basketball World Cup 2023 🏆 (@FIBAWC) September 3, 2023
How does Austin Reaves feel about this the morning after? Here’s what he told me moments before practice:
“There’s been many times in my career where people looked at me sideways or done stuff so it’s basketball and at the end of the day, it doesn’t matter.” https://t.co/k0bAyegwH5 pic.twitter.com/QcTJu9sve8
— Nicole Ganglani (@nicoleganglani) September 4, 2023
Reaves, 25, went undrafted in the 2021 NBA Draft following four seasons of college basketball — two at Wichita State University and two more at the University of Oklahoma — and has played two seasons in the NBA, both as a member of the storied Lakers franchise. He averaged 13.0 points, 3.0 rebounds, 3.4 assists and 0.5 steals per game across 64 appearances with Los Angeles during the 2022-23 regular season (22 starts).
He also shot the ball with impressive accuracy from the field, as he converted 52.9 percent of his field-goal attempts and 39.8 percent of his three-point attempts.
The 6-foot-5 guard carried over his excellent play from the 2022-23 regular season into the 2023 postseason. His postseason stats improved vastly compared to his regular-season numbers, as he averaged 16.9 points, 4.4 rebounds and 4.6 assists across 16 playoff games and shot 44.3 percent from behind the three-point arc.
Reaves’ best playoff series of the Lakers’ 2023 postseason run came in the Western Conference Finals against Nikola Jokic, Jamal Murray and the Denver Nuggets. The 25-year-old performed like an All-Star during the series, considering he averaged 21.3 points and 5.3 assists per game while shooting 54.9 percent from the field and 56.0 percent from deep.
His heroics weren’t enough for the Lakers to beat the Nuggets, however. Denver swept the Lakers in four games in the Western Conference Finals and then went on to beat Jimmy Butler and the Miami Heat in five games in the NBA Finals to win the 2023 NBA title.
Reaves played the best basketball of his pro career during the tail end of the 2023 NBA postseason. Here’s to hoping that the Arkansas native will follow up his spectacular finish to the 2023 postseason with a very productive 2023-24 regular season.