As the Los Angeles Lakers gear up for the 2023-24 season, the spotlight remains fixed on NBA superstars LeBron James and Anthony Davis. However, a rising talent in the form of Austin Reaves might just be the X-factor to tilt the scales in the Lakers' favor.
During his sophomore season, Reaves ascended as a pivotal third wheel for the Lakers, showcasing his prowess during their unexpected surge in the 2023 NBA playoffs. For a debutant in the postseason, the stakes never seemed too high for Reaves.
His knack for delivering when it mattered most earned him widespread acclaim.
Reaves Shines Under Kerr's Guidance
His impressive form didn't go unnoticed on the international stage either. As part of Team USA, Reaves played under the tutelage of Golden State Warriors' coach, Steve Kerr.
Initially starting as a backup, the undrafted guard soon carved a niche for himself, becoming an indispensable asset to Kerr's tactical plans. Jovan Buha of The Athletic highlighted Kerr's admiration for Reaves, quoting the coach's candid acknowledgment, “Way better to coach him than coach against him.
I thoroughly enjoyed my time coaching him. Without a doubt, he's quickly becoming one of the top young players in the NBA”. Despite the NBA being a crucible of emerging talents, Reaves sets himself apart with his fearless approach and comprehensive skills on the hardwood.
His undrafted status might contrast with the accolades of his contemporaries, but his on-court impact overshadows any draft distinction. While James and Davis are the bedrock of the Lakers, Reaves enhances the team's prospects significantly, ensuring they remain strong contenders for the championship.
With Reaves' rapid growth trajectory, Coach Darvin Ham is primed with a richer talent pool. Engaging in playful banter, Reaves hasn't missed a chance to remind Coach Kerr and fellow Team USA mate, Jaren Jackson Jr., of his triumphs against their respective teams in the playoffs.
The camaraderie shared among Team USA members is evident, and the Lakers are hopeful that Reaves carries this momentum into the new season, bolstered by his international experiences and learnings from stalwarts like Kerr.