NBA executive pegs Austin Reaves as ‘top breakout candidate’ for this season

Mike Battaglino
3 Min Read
Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Austin Reaves has impressed in his first two seasons with the Los Angeles Lakers, and one NBA executive thinks the emerging star is capable of even more as he enters the 2023-24 campaign.

“One NBA executive believes Reaves has more development ahead of him and voted for the 25-year-old guard as his top breakout candidate this season,” wrote Michael Scotto of HoopsHype.

Reaves undoubtedly will be counted on to be one of the Lakers’ key players after re-signing with them as a coveted restricted free agent this offseason. He averaged 13.0 points per game during the 2022-23 regular season, almost doubling his output from his rookie campaign.

The guard then became even more productive in the playoffs, averaging 16.9 points per game in helping the Lakers make it all the way to the 2023 Western Conference Finals, where they were swept by the eventual NBA champion Denver Nuggets.

Reaves is one of a handful of Lakers who are carrying that disappointing ending into this season and has addressed the chirping done by the Nuggets after winning the title. The teams will meet on the opening night of the regular season at Denver on Oct. 24.

The idea that Reaves has room to play even better has to bode well for the Lakers, who are expected to remain a strong contender for the NBA championship. In addition to the executive’s optimism, one prominent Lakers player reportedly called the Oklahoma University product a “freaking monster” after watching him play for Team USA at the 2023 FIBA World Cup.

Reaves’ new contract was one of several successful offseason transactions for Los Angeles, who also re-signed Rui Hachimura and D’Angelo Russell and added Gabe Vincent, Cam Reddish, Taurean Prince, Jaxson Hayes and Christian Wood.

In addition, superstars LeBron James and Anthony Davis both are entering the season healthy and highly focused. The 38-year-old icon reportedly has been “extra engaged” during training camp, especially as a leader, and his 30-year-old running mate is going to be asked to expand his game by shooting more 3-pointers this season.

The Lakers have an intriguing combination of young players like Reaves and established high-performing veterans like James and Davis. With one of the deepest rosters in the NBA, it could lead to Reaves making an even bigger name for himself as the season progresses.

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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.