Austin Reaves will not get the gold medal he was looking for with Team USA at the 2023 FIBA World Cup, but the emerging Los Angeles Lakers star said he is still taking a lot away from his experience at the tournament.
“I think I’ve been able to learn a lot from a lot of really good players, a lot of really good coaches, and basically just see that I belong,” Reaves said.
The 25-year-old did more than just see that he belonged. He showed that he can stand out on a team with some of the NBA’s best players and perform at a high level against the best international talent the world has to offer.
Reaves has been having an outstanding tournament, including recording his tournament high of 21 points in the 113-111 semifinal loss to Germany on Friday that kept Team USA from reaching the championship game. Former Lakers teammate Dennis Schroder was outstanding for the Germans, scoring 17 points and dishing out nine assists, and the two shared an embrace afterward.
The Americans will play Canada for the bronze medal on Sunday. Reaves is averaging 12.4 points per game while shooting 59.0 percent from the field and 52.4 percent from 3-point range in seven tournament contests. Despite not starting a single game, he is usually one of the five American players on the floor in the important final moments.
“I feel like I have competed at a high level,” Reaves said. “Obviously I have things to work on, but I feel like I can hit the ground running for the first of the year.”
The third-place game will be yet another chance for him to show how far he has come in a relatively short amount of time. He was arguably the Lakers’ third-best player in the NBA playoffs last season, helping them reach the Western Conference Finals, where they were swept by the eventual champion Denver Nuggets.
This offseason, he re-signed with Los Angeles on a four-year, $54 million contract as a restricted free agent and debuted a limited edition of his signature shoe during the tournament.
The undrafted University of Oklahoma product is about the enter his third NBA campaign as one of the up-and-coming young stars in the league. He is expected to play a bigger role for the Lakers this season and has been working closely with their strength and conditioning team to handle increased responsibilities.
With the overseas competition drawing to a close and the start of NBA training camps coming up quickly, Reaves will turn his attention to his goal of bringing a title back to Los Angeles. Based on his play for Team USA, he looks like he will be up to that task.