James said the Lakers trust Reaves, who finished with 23 points while shooting 8-of-13 from the floor and 3-of-5 from beyond the arc.
“We trust him with the ball in his hands early in the game and late in the game,” James said. “So we got something going in the fourth quarter, and after every stop or if we didn’t get a stop or whatever, I think Jaren Jackson went on like a 5-0 run by himself when we went up seven, we went back to AR and just put the ball in his hands, he was able to hit a pull-up two, able to hit a three when they kind of had a soft switch and then hit another pull-up two to put us up eight. So he closed the game for us offensively.”
The Lakers beat the Grizzlies by a final score of 128-112 to take a 1-0 series lead. They stole home-court advantage and will look to take a commanding 2-0 series lead in Game 2.
James, who is looking to win his fifth title, put up 21 points, 11 rebounds and five assists in Game 1.
LeBron James Is Not Surprised by How Good of a Player Austin Reaves Is
James told reporters that he’s not surprised by how good of a player Reaves is. Reaves went undrafted out of Oklahoma and signed a two-way contract with the Lakers in August 2021. The purple and gold converted Reaves’ two-way contract to a regular contract in September 2021.
“Well it’s not surprising to me,” James said about Reaves’ strong play. “I knew from the first practice that we had when we grabbed him that it wasn’t gonna be long, he wasn’t gonna be a two-way player for long. … I’ve been around the game long enough to know great basketball IQ players and I know the type of players that fit with my game and I knew Austin would be that right away.”
Reaves averaged 13.0 points, 3.0 rebounds and 3.4 assists during the regular season. He becomes a restricted free agent this summer and the Lakers are expected to re-sign him, sources told Heavy Sports.
Austin Reaves: I Want to Stay With the Lakers
Reaves told Shams Charania of Stadium on April 10 that he wants to re-sign with the Lakers this offseason. The rising star grew up a Kobe Bryant fan.
“Yeah I wanna be a Laker,” Reaves told Charania. “Obviously, they gave me the first opportunity. I was a huge Laker fan growing up. Big Kobe [Bryant] fan. So honestly, just to be able to play for the Lakers organization is special and I wanna be a Laker. So hopefully we can get this done and I can stay there for hopefully my whole career.”
The most the Lakers can offer Reaves this summer is a four-year, $50.8 million contract if they chose to use his Early Bird Rights, according to a March 20 report from Jovan Buha of The Athletic.