“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 said. “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—ing game of basketball.”
Reaves has turned into one of the rising stars in the NBA. He averaged 13.0 points, 3.0 rebounds and 3.4 assists during the regular season and is putting up 17.6 points, 5.2 rebounds and 4.4 assists per game in the playoffs. The Lakers need to win one more game against the Memphis Grizzlies to advance to the Western Conference Semifinals, which is pretty incredible considering the team started the season 2-10.
“I think the brand of basketball we played since the trade deadline, it’s been really good,” Reaves said. “Everybody’s been involved in the flow of the offense and then everybody’s just making the extra pass. So it’s easy because you’ve got defenses scrambling.”
Anthony Davis on Austin Reaves: ‘He Just Knows How to Play the Game’
Anthony Davis, like James, loves playing with Reaves. According to McMenamin, in the 390 minutes James, Davis and Reaves played together during the regular season, the Lakers outscored their opponents by 14.3 points per 100 possessions.
“He’s a good complement for us,” Davis said. “He just knows how to play the game and he’s tough. When you put guys like that around me and Bron, kind of the same role as AC [Alex Caruso]. … Guys who just do all the dirty work but also can play, it really complements me and Bron.”
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 and now the guard is set up to get paid this summer in restricted free agency.
Austin Reaves on the Lakers: ‘I Would Love to Be Here My Whole Career’
Reaves wants to spend his entire career with the Lakers. The Arkansas product feels like Los Angeles “is where I should be.”
“I would love to be here my whole career,” Reaves said. “Just the way that the fans treat me, the love they have for me, as an undrafted player, it’s kind of like they raised me type of vibe. … It feels like it’s meant to be. It feels like this all happened for a reason and this is where I should be.”
As a restricted free agent, Reaves can either re-sign with the Lakers or sign an offer sheet with a rival team. Los Angeles can match any offer sheet Reaves signs as long as it comes within 48 hours.
“L.A. will have to extend a $2.2 million qualifying offer to make Reaves a restricted free agent, and because of his early Bird rights, the Lakers can offer him a first-year salary of up to $11.4 million, according to ESPN NBA front-office insider Bobby Marks,” McMenamin wrote. “If he signs an early Bird deal, it will have to be for at least two years, not including any option years.”