Lakers guard Austin Reaves had a strong official debut with Team USA in the 2023 World Cup, notching 12 points (on 4-of-6 shooting), six assists and three steals in 22 minutes of action as the Americans defeated New Zealand. Still, those numbers might be underselling his impact, according to Brian Windhorst of ESPN, who says Reaves’ “all-around production, spirit and poise” made a big difference off the bench in the comeback win.
As Windhorst writes, Reaves has become a fan favorite around the world due to his breakout performance with Los Angeles last season, with the crowd in the Philippines going wild after his normal pose following a made three-pointer. He says it’s something he doesn’t take for granted.
“I was one of those kids watching the World Cup [and] the Olympics, so every day I wake up and cherish those moments,” Reaves said. “I’m from a super small town, and not a lot of people expected me to be here representing our country. So for the [crowds] to accept me the way that they accept me, it means a lot to me.”
Here’s more on the Lakers:
- In an interview with Khobi Price of The Southern California News Group (subscriber link), Reaves says the last two years have been a whirlwind. As Price notes, the 25-year-old went undrafted in 2021, initially signing a two-way contract with the Lakers. Reaves was promoted to a standard deal prior to 2021/22, excelled down the stretch in ’22/23 in helping L.A. make the Western Conference Finals, signed a four-year, $54MM contract in free agency, and then received an invitation to the World Cup roster. “It’s been crazy,” Reaves said. “To get here and be rewarded with the contract [and] being on Team USA … all those dark days not getting recruited, not getting drafted, all that’s come to light. The basketball gods are real. If you’re pure to the game, the game will be pure to you back eventually. It’s been a beautiful two years.”
- Jovan Buha of The Athletic lists five lineups he’d like to see the Lakers use in ’23/24. According to Buha, the lineup with the most intriguing two-way potential features Reaves, Max Christie, Rui Hachimura, LeBron James and Anthony Davis. A second-round pick in 2022, Christie is coming off a strong Summer League showing last month.
- In case you missed it, the Lakers are unveiling a statue of the late Kobe Bryant during the upcoming season. You can find the details right here.