Lakers G Austin Reaves’ Brother Reacts to Critics After Team USA Letdown

Austin Reaves, Los Angeles Lakers

Getty Austin Reaves #15 of the United States and the Los Angeles Lakers.

Los Angeles Lakers guard Austin Reaves has risen quickly over the last several months, both in the team’s pecking order and in his national profile. That can be a double-edged sword as Reaves found out following his poor showing with Team USA against Lithuania in the 2023 FIBA World Cup, a 110-104 loss for the Americans.

After the game, Lithuanian player Vaidas Kariniauskas was seen taunting Reaves. With fans piling on, Spencer Reaves spoke out. It was later revealed that Reaves’ brother, Spencer, gave Kariniauskas the idea to taunt.

But that’s not all they were focused on.

“People really had ‘Austin Reaves sucks’ tweets just waiting in the drafts for a bad game,” Spencer Reaves posted on September 4.

Reaves scored seven points on 1-for-4 shooting, including 0-for-2 from beyond the arc. He fouled out having snagged zero rebounds and, perhaps most surprisingly, zero assists after garnering praise from head coach Steve Kerr for his passing prowess and how it opened things up for the offense.

Reaves was constantly targeted and getting backed down on defense leading to Kerr benching him early to try and save him.

“I took him out because of the foul trouble,” Kerr said via FIBA media on September 3. “They posted him out. They’re a very strong team, and they have a lot of their guys trying to back us down and post us up. It just wasn’t Austin’s night. You got a couple of plays down there that he’d liked to have back, I’m sure. But not worried about Austin.”

Reaves averaged 11.7 points on 57.1% shooting entering the matchup against Lithuania and was a hero in the win over Montenegro on September 1.

There were some who came to Reaves’ defense, noting that there were other, higher-profile players on the roster who were not receiving as much blame for the loss. But Reaves’ appointment to the team over Atlanta Hawks star Trae Young also came up.

“Leaving Trae Young off the FIBA team was a horrible decision also,” posted @dfaustt on September 4. “Yeah he’s a smaller player that’s not stopping anyone on defense but Reaves & [Tyrese] Haliburton for sure s*** ain’t doing that either.

Others still pointed out that things could have been even worse with Young in over Reaves.

Skip Bayless Cites Austin Reaves, Trashes Trae Young Trade Rumor

Fox Sports 1 personality Skip Bayless compared Reaves to Young for a different reason, also saying that the Lakers’ rumored interest in trading for Young would be like repeating their experiment with Russell Westbrook.

“I would not want him on my basketball team,” Bayless said on “Undisputed” on September 4. “It’s a bad combination. It’s like Westbrook. … I don’t know how this is a great fit. It’s not like he’s a three-point sniper who shoots 40% like Austin Reaves did last year, especially through the playoffs.”

Reaves shot 39.8% from the long distance in the regular season and 44.3% in the playoffs. Young shot 33.5% from deep in an admittedly down shooting season.

He also shot 37.1% from the trade deadline line through the end of the regular season.

Austin Reaves-Trae Young Backcourt Could Be Defensive Liability

Things could get really interesting for the Lakers if they are truly still interested in trading for Young with both he and Reaves having defensive warts. But the Lakers could focus on acquiring the talented Young first and worry about filling out the roster later.

Westbrook’s tenure has also been analyzed from several angles, including former teammate Patrick Beverley who pointed to then-first-year head coach Darvin Ham trying to find his way with a loaded roster. Beverley said he thinks that group could have made more noise without so much uncertainty with the lineups.

Ham has commended Westbrook — who found his way to the rival LA Clippers after the Lakers traded him to the Utah Jazz — for buying in.

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