Many feared that the Los Angeles Lakers, after showing so much promise after their trade deadline overhaul, would fall off after LeBron James went down with a foot injury that has kept him out since February 28. However, undrafted guard Austin Reaves has taken it upon himself to shoulder some of the scoring load with James on the mend. And his latest effort on Wednesday night in a 122-111 win over the Suns is just the continuation of what has been an impressive breakout from the 24-year old guard.
After coming off the bench in the Lakers' past 18 games, Reaves entered the starting lineup against the Suns and did not miss a beat. In 39 minutes of action, the Lakers guard dropped 25 points, four rebounds, and 11 assists — just the second double-double of his career. And in doing so, he has etched himself even deeper into an already-deep Lakers lore.
According to ESPN Stats & Info, Austin Reaves became the first undrafted Lakers player to average 30 points over a two-game span in the modern draft era, which began in 1966.
Of course, that looks like an extremely cherry-picked statistic, but it just goes to show how far Austin Reaves has come for the Lakers. From a plucky guard who could barely get minutes to begin with on a 33-win Lakers squad last season, to a player LeBron James has praised for his energy and intangibles, Reaves has begun to take center stage following his emergence as a bonafide efficient scorer.
Beyond his ability to put the ball through the hoop with his midrange stylings, he has also shown an incredible ability to get to the foul line. Since James picked up his injury in late February, the 24-year old guard has averaged 7.8 free throw attempts per game, a figure that would rank 10th in the entire association if he could sustain those numbers. In fact, Reaves has kicked up his foul drawing game a lot in the past four games, amassing a total of 53 attempts (13.25 per game) from the charity stripe during that span.
As a result, Austin Reaves has set himself up for a nice payday in free agency, be it with the Lakers or for another team.