Austin Reaves Discusses Lakers Free Agency, Lebron James
After going undrafted in 2021, Austin Reaves agreed to a two-way deal on draft night with the Lakers, played well enough to be converted to a standard NBA contract after training camp, and has since earned a role. more important this season to position himself for a raise in free agency this summer.
In his first 29 games before suffering a sprained right ankle, Reaves averaged 10.8 points on 52.1% shooting from the field and 39.1% from downtown. Shortly after, Reaves suffered a hamstring strain and has been out of training since January 4.
With the Lakers in town for a straight set with the Nets and Knicks, Reaves discussed lessons he learned from LeBron James, comparisons to Alex Caruso, his upcoming free agency, and more with HoopsHype.
Austin Reaves: I was pissed, to be honest. Obviously, I didn’t feel like there were 60 best players, but the draft wasn’t all about talent at that point. It’s about potential and stuff like that, probably after 25 years (choice). I wasn’t happy, but I knew I was going to get an opportunity, and that was all it took, someone giving me the opportunity to go prove myself.
AR: I thought it was crazy, especially with the team we had last year. We had probably six or seven Hall of Famers on that team who had been in the league for over 10 years. It was an awesome experience. Coach Vogel was the first guy to really give me an opportunity. I have a lot of love and respect for him because there were several times at the beginning of the year when he did not have to accompany me and give me an opportunity because of the staff that we had on the team, but he thought it was better for the team and it worked for me. Lots of praise for him. The whole year wasn’t the year we wanted to have, but for me to get this year and learn how the NBA works was huge.
AR: Be yourself and don’t try to be someone else. Everyone gets to this level for some reason. You’re obviously very good at basketball, but you’re really good at some things. Not everyone is going to be a star, and you need to realize that when you reach that level and figure out where you can fit in and what you can do to help the team succeed. It was the main thing. Be yourself and enjoy it.
AR: Honestly, it wasn’t as bad as I thought. I get it from time to time. One thing about me is that I’m not going to back down. I like the competitive nature and people attacking me because I feel like I can hold my own and rise to that challenge. I do not speak alot. You have to tell me something before I say anything, and usually it’s defensive. I don’t talk much about the attack.
AR: I think it’s that extra year of experience. You can talk about the 82-game season, but once you get through it – and I’ve had injuries and DNPs – until you get through the journey and all that, you feel more at comfortable. When you’re comfortable, the better you’ll play.
AR: Winning, honestly. That’s all I care about. I think when you win as a team, everyone looks good on the team, whether you average 25 points or 10 points. If you win, you are doing something good. It’s a matter of winning for me. On top of that, I want to improve every year and not just know where I am in terms of skills or even IQ. You can always learn. I have arguably the best IQ guy (LeBron James) to ever play the game, so I learned from him.
AR: Totally different players, but we’re guys who played on the Lakers, and we’re white. We don’t really look athletic. He’s athletic, but I’m not that athletic. I can see why people do it, but we’re two totally different players.
You can follow Michael Scotto (@MikeAScotto) on Twitter.
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