Los Angeles Lakers rising star Austin Reaves is enjoying the start of what seems likely to be a successful NBA career, earning his first huge paycheck this offseason and being given the opportunity to represent his country in the FIBA Basketball World Cup.
However, he apparently believes that there are still “a lot” of people in the NBA who are skeptical of his success. He talked to the Los Angeles Times about the matter.
“Will it?” he asked when told things will be different now regarding his respect. “I still really think that there are a lot of guys out there in the NBA that think it’s…a fluke, kinda. But I don’t mind that.
“… It’s just been like that forever. I can’t remember a time that it wasn’t.”
Those folks are probably not members or fans of the Lakers organization, as Reaves appears to have plenty of supporters in Los Angeles. Ever since earning a spot in the squad’s rotation in his rookie campaign in the 2021-22 season, the undrafted player out of the University of Oklahoma has earned a reputation as a crowd favorite.
Reaves then began the 2022-23 season playing a key role off the bench and starting sporadically for coach Darvin Ham. He eventually secured a consistent spot as a starter late in the campaign and didn’t disappoint.
In the Lakers’ last 10 regular season games, all of which the 6-foot-5 shooting guard started, they lost just two matches. He averaged 18.3 points, 6.1 assists and 1.8 3-pointers per contest during that stretch while shooting 57.1 percent from the field, 48.6 percent from 3-point land and 89.8 percent from the charity stripe.
Reaves carried his strong play into the playoffs, helping the franchise reach the Western Conference Finals. He put up an efficient 16.9 points per game in the playoffs along with 4.6 assists and 2.4 3-pointers per contest.
The Arkansas native has continued to silence his doubters, especially those who don’t think he deserves a spot on Team USA, by making his presence felt in the squad’s most recent exhibition matches. His nine-point, four-rebound and four-assist performance against Puerto Rico even earned him some attention from LeBron James. Reaves returned the love upon hearing the praise.
A-R you so COLD man!!! 🙏🏾👑 #TeamUSA🇺🇸
— LeBron James (@KingJames) August 8, 2023
Reaves registered another strong showing against Slovenia, dropping 10 points, five boards and four assists.
Despite having already proven his place in the league, Reaves may always have detractors. But he understands that is the case, as he has experienced being an underdog his “whole life.”
“It’s kind of really been my whole life, me proving that I’m capable of doing things, and then having to re-prove it again,” Reaves said. “And it’s been repetitive my whole life, something I talked to my agents [Reilly and Reggie Berry] about multiple times — even this past year. Like, was it ever going to change? Just because it happened so much to me.
“Reggie was like, ‘This is why you are who you are. You’re going to figure it out regardless of minutes, touches, whatever.’ He was like, ‘You’ll make an impact on winning basketball.’”
His agent’s words have proven to be wise, as Reaves is undoubtedly playing winning basketball.