Shaquille O’Neal calls on Austin Reaves, D’Angelo Russell and Rui Hachimura to step up and help ‘2 of the greatest players ever’

Jesse Cinquini
4 Min Read
Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Former Los Angeles Lakers star Shaquille O’Neal called on Austin Reaves, D’Angelo Russell and Rui Hachimura to step up and help “two of the greatest players ever” in LeBron James and Anthony Davis.

“The pressure is on LeBron and A.D., but as a professional player, with guys leaving you wide open, you have to step up,” O’Neal said. “Rick Fox and Derek Fisher used to be pissed off if they missed open shots. They knew they had to knock those down. So, again, the others have to step up. Listen, you got A.D. playin’ fabulous — I’m on A.D.’s case all the time. LeBron playin’. But Reaves gotta play spectacular. D’Angelo gotta play spectacular. Rui Hachimura gotta play spectacular. And they have to take advantage of the — you playing with two of the greatest players ever. You have room to operate. So, if you got room to operate, be aggressive and operate. You can’t always wait on them, and sometimes, you gotta do it yourself, but the others have to step up. … You need others to win championships.”

Reaves is putting up some of the best numbers of his NBA career so far in the 2023-24 regular season after signing a four-year contract with the Lakers in the 2023 offseason.

He is averaging 15.4 points, 4.5 rebounds and 5.2 assists per game (all of which are career-highs) across 36 games with the storied franchise so far this season. Reaves is shooting 48.9 percent from the floor and 34.9 percent from outside the 3-point arc.

The 25-year-old has been scoring the ball at a high level over the past week or so, considering he has scored 19 points or more for Los Angeles in three straight games. Most recently, he ended up with 19 points and 12 assists while shooting 8-of-14 from the field in a loss to the Memphis Grizzlies on Jan. 5.

Russell, meanwhile, has been sidelined for the Lakers’ last three games due to a tailbone injury. In his most recent appearance for the Lakers, he finished with five points and three assists while shooting 1-of-4 from the field in a two-point loss against the Minnesota Timberwolves back on Dec. 30. He’s averaging 14.8 points, 2.9 rebounds and 6.1 assists per game this season.

Finally, Hachimura has also yet to play for the Lakers this month and missed 11 of the team’s 36 games so far during the 2023-24 regular season. He is averaging 11.6 points, 3.6 rebounds and 1.1 assists per game in his second season in Los Angeles.

Reaves, Hachimura, Russell and the Lakers will try for their first win of the calendar year when they take on the Los Angeles Clippers — who own the fourth-best record in the Western Conference at 22-12 — on Sunday.

While the Lakers haven’t picked up a win in 2024, the Clippers have yet to lose. The team has won five games in a row overall, with its last loss coming against the Boston Celtics — who hold the NBA’s top record — on Dec. 23.

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Jesse is a sports journalist with extensive experience covering the NBA. He has worked as a staff writer covering the Lakers’ dreaded rivals, the Boston Celtics, for SB Nation. He has also covered the New York Knicks for The Knicks Wall.