Austin Reaves' Playoff Breakout With Lakers Singled Out By Former Champion Player
The Los Angeles Lakers’ season will end in the Western Conference Finals barring a historically unprecedented comeback. Don’t blame Austin Reaves for his team falling into an 0-3 hole against Nikola Jokic, Jamal Murray and the Denver Nuggets, though. Like one former Laker sees it, the second-year guard has been a revelation during the Lakers’ playoff run, taking his game to new heights on the game’s brightest stage.
Former Los Angeles big man Jelani McCoy singled out Reaves, among others, as one of the players he’s been most impressed with during the postseason.
“I mean, honestly, it’s got to be guys like Austin Reaves,” McCoy said on the most recent episode of Legends Lounge with Trill Withers. “De’Aaron Fox was great to watch bringing Sacramento into the postseason the way he did and him having the highest clutch rating going into the playoffs or coming out of the regular season. So those storylines have been great.”
McCoy, a second-round pick of the Seattle Supersonics in 1998 who played on the Lakers’ 2002 title team, relishes the success of players who’ve taken paths less travelled to NBA relevance. Reaves’ rapid journey from undrafted, anonymous rookie to cementing himself as the Lakers’ third-best player under the playoff microscope certainly applies.
“Austin Reaves, second-year player. The guys, the Golden State players getting a lot of chance to play in the postseason, but really the guys I’m just most impressed with are the guys probably I watched the most, go figure,” McCoy continued. “Probably like Austin Reaves, guys like that, they didn’t have the easiest pass at success.”
Reaves is averaging 16.9 points, 4.6 rebounds and 4.7 assists per game during the postseason, scorching nets en route to 44.2% shooting from beyond the arc. He’s easily been Los Angeles’ second-most effective playmaker behind LeBron James, and largely held his own defending the likes of Desmond Bane, Klay Thompson and Michael Porter Jr.
Reaves’ breakout playoffs probably won’t be enough for the Lakers to win the West. At the very least, though, he’s established himself as a reliable impact player with some room left to grow ahead of a summer bound to include a major payday in restricted free agency.