Reaves is getting some point-guard reps with the starters in the second quarter pic.twitter.com/N3OXham8n7
— Jovan Buha (@jovanbuha) August 5, 2023
Austin Reaves dimes up Jaren Jackson Jr. and then jams it in the Team USA practice 😤
— ClutchPoints (@ClutchPoints) August 5, 2023
A few nice Austin Reaves plays in here, including a sweet pull-up baseline J over two defenders https://t.co/WaDoCQKRxi
— Michael Corvo (@michaelcorvoNBA) August 5, 2023
Team USA beat the Select Team, 84-61, after losing their first two scrimmages.
Reaves' role on Team USA will be fun to monitor once their tournament begins on Aug. 26 vs. New Zealand in the Philippines. USA Basketball historically offers an invaluable learning experience for up-and-coming players and a fascinating barometer as to where guys stand amongst peers. Reaves is one of four guards on the roster, along with Jalen Brunson, Tyrese Haliburton, and Anthony Edwards. Head coach Steve Kerr deployed a handful of two-guard lineups and praised his team for their passing.
“Guys who have feel and can pass, they can play with anybody. But it's fun. It's fun having kind of a dual point guard lineup out there. But I feel the same way honestly, when Austin is out there. Austin's such a good passer and sees the floor so well.
“This is a time where we're just looking at a lot of different combinations and seeing what we have.”
At Summer League, Darvin Ham declared Reaves his starting shooting guard.
“I’m putting it on record right now: Austin Reaves will be an All-Star at some point soon. I think what you saw him being invited to be a part of the World Cup team? It’s the first step in that direction. Everything you saw him do last year, the kid is a flat-out competitor, one of the greatest human beings you could ever be around, always fun, keeps things simple, but yet works at his craft. (He's) fearless in the biggest of moments. And my plan is to continue to feature him. He’s our starting 2-guard. I think there’s a lot more levels (he's) going to get to before it’s all said and done. He’ll be an All-Star and a world champion … with me in the room with him.”
The 25-year-old, who re-signed with the Lakers on a 4-year, $54 million contract, averaged 17.6 points (.578/.443/.856 shooting splits) after the All-Star break. His emergence as a lead ballhandler directly corresponded to the Lakers' midseason resurgence. Reaves was clearly the Lakers' third-best player in the playoffs, averaging 16.9 points, 4.4 rebounds, and 4.6 assists during their run to the conference finals.
Reaves has primarily played point guard throughout his life. The Lakers view Reaves, Gabe Vincent, D'Angelo Russell, and, of course, LeBron James, as wings who can orchestrate the offense and play off-ball.
“After watching him kick our butt for six straight games in the Western Conference semis, it was a pretty easy choice,” Kerr said in July when explaining the decision to include Reaves on the team. “Austin is one of the rising young players in this league. What you look for in FIBA is versatility. You want size defensively and the ability to switch and guard multiple positions, and then you want playmaking. You want guys who can make shots but also put the ball on the floor and are good passers.”
“When you look at his story and see how he has kind of busted down doors and created an opportunity for himself on an NBA stage, there's a real toughness that goes with that feel, shooting, playmaking, and everything Steve alluded to,” added USA Basketball managing director Grant Hill. “He's unafraid, but also a guy with incredible IQ and feel for how to play.”
D'Angelo Russell on Austin Reaves: "Killer. Oh my god, he's a killer."
— Michael Corvo (@michaelcorvoNBA) August 2, 2023
On Friday, Reaves — a lifelong Kobe Bryant fan — said his favorite USA Basketball moment was Kobe's four-point play in 2008. Bryant scored 13 points in the fourth quarter to lead the “Redeem Team” to gold over Spain.
Lakers' Austin Reaves says Kobe Bryant’s 4-point play vs. Spain in the ’08 gold medal game is his favorite USA Basketball moment.
— Michael Corvo (@michaelcorvoNBA) August 3, 2023
Reaves' debut signature shoe, meanwhile, the Rigorer AR1 “Ice Cream”, drops next week.