Austin Reaves balls out, sends crowd into frenzy numerous times in FIBA World Cup vs. New Zealand

Mike Battaglino
3 Min Read

Austin Reaves is picking up right where he left off at the end of the NBA season, with the emerging Los Angeles Lakers star having an excellent game for Team USA in its 2023 FIBA World Cup opener on Saturday.

Reaves had a day to remember.

Reaves had 12 points with six assists and some highlight-worthy plays in a 99-72 win over New Zealand. The 25-year-old came off the bench and helped the Americans pull away for an easy victory in the Philippines.

He also received a loud ovation during pregame introductions, which speaks to his growing status that was enhanced by an improved second NBA season and impressive showing in the playoffs for the Lakers. L.A. reached the 2023 Western Conference Finals before losing to the eventual NBA champion Denver Nuggets.

It has been somewhat of a whirlwind offseason for Reaves, who re-signed with Los Angeles as a restricted free agent, getting a four-year contract worth about $54 million. He also showed off a signature shoe and had to deny rumors that he may have been dating Taylor Swift.

None of that would have been possible without his stellar play on the court. Reaves averaged 16.9 points, 4.4 rebounds and 4.6 assists per game during the 2023 playoffs, drawing attention in the biggest games with the largest audiences.

Despite that, some were still surprised by his selection to Team USA, and many of those same folks have surely been surprised by his play with the team so far.

Observers have described his play as much better than expected, and Team USA head coach Steve Kerr praised his feel and vision during preparation for the tournament.

That’s all good news for Lakers fans, who have grown very attached to the former undrafted free agent during his two NBA seasons. Team USA next plays Monday against Greece, and while winning the World Cup would certainly be a tremendous accomplishment, Reaves has said he is very focused on winning an NBA championship with the Lakers.

If he can continue to improve at the rate he has been, he will undoubtedly be one of the key players in the Lakers’ next championship — if they’re able to get the job done.

Share This Article
Mike is a veteran journalist who has covered the NBA for almost three decades. He remembers the birth of "Showtime" and has always admired the star power the Lakers have brought to the game.