LeBron James on Austin Reaves: ‘I’ve always had a liking to guys that just know how to play the f—–g game of basketball’

Peter Dewey
3 Min Read

Los Angeles Lakers superstar LeBron James had some major praise for guard Austin Reaves and his basketball IQ.

It is one of the reasons why James enjoys playing with the young guard, who went undrafted out of college.

“I don’t give a f— about, like, athleticism; how great you can shoot the ball; how high you can jump; how fast you can run,” James told ESPN. “I like high basketball IQ guys. Obviously, you got to have that s— to win a championship. You got to have guys that can do extraordinary s—. But like, I’ve always had a liking to guys that just know how to play the f—— game of basketball.”

Reaves has been an integral part of the Lakers’ success in the 2022-23 season, and he’s a major reason why the team has a 3-2 lead over the Memphis Grizzlies in the first round of the playoffs.

During the regular season, Reaves averaged 13.0 points, 3.0 rebounds and 3.4 assists per game while shooting 52.9 percent from the field and 39.8 percent from beyond the arc.

However, those numbers don’t tell the full story. Since being inserted into the starting lineup on March 22, Reaves has taken his game to a whole different level.

In the final 10 games of the regular season (all starts), Reaves increased his numbers to 18.3 points, 3.3 rebounds and 6.1 assists per game. He shot 57.1 percent from the field and 48.6 percent from beyond the arc over that stretch.

Reaves is set to become a restricted free agent this coming offseason, and he’s in a great spot to cash in on the open market. The max the Lakers can offer Reaves is a four-year deal worth $50.8 million. In the open market, Reaves could command a deal up to four years at $99 million.

In fact, one Utah Jazz insider believes Reaves is worth exactly that.

If James thinks this highly of Reaves, the Lakers would be smart to keep him around for the long haul, especially if he continues to produce in the playoffs.

So far in the team’s series with Memphis, Reaves is averaging 17.6 points, 5.2 rebounds and 4.4 assists in 37.0 minutes per game.

He’s become one of the most trusted players in Darvin Ham’s rotation for his smart play and impressive knack for scoring the basketball.

With Reaves playing at such a high level, James and the Lakers have a legitimate shot to make a deep run in the playoffs this season.

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Peter is a graduate of Quinnipiac University where he covered the MAAC and college basketball for three years. He has worked for NBC Sports, the Connecticut Sun and the Meriden Record-Journal covering basketball and other major sports. Follow him on Twitter @peterdewey2.