Austin Reaves has become a far different player than when the Los Angeles Lakers signed him as an undrafted rookie in August 2021. A guard who excelled in moving off the ball, pulling off hustle plays on the regular, and popping off for the occasional double-digit scoring game, Reaves has become an efficient volume scoring weapon for the Lakers amid LeBron James’ foot injury. However, it seems like the way Reaves is getting his buckets is irking his opponents — most recently, the Phoenix Suns.
While Monty Williams wouldn’t directly criticize the Lakers guard for his penchant for taking one trip after another to the charity stripe, the Suns head coach complained about what he thought was an inexplicable free-throw disparity between them and the Lakers — with Reaves responsible for 13 of the Lakers’ 46 free throw attempts on the night.
Nevertheless, Austin Reaves believes that the Lakers are just getting the free throw attempts they deserve given their conscious aggression in getting to the hoop. Reaves specifically pointed out that he has taken it upon himself to be more aggressive with LeBron James out.
“46 free throws is a lot. But, if you get downhill a lot, and you have guys like AD and DLo who are really crafty, you’re gonna get a lot of fouls,” Reaves said, per ClutchPoints Lakers beat reporter Michael Corvo.
As the old adage goes, “don’t hate the player, hate the game.” If Austin Reaves and the rest of the Lakers squad are just doing whatever think is necessary to win games, which includes manufacturing easy points at the foul line, just so they could remain in the playoff race with LeBron James on the mend, then it’s hard to be too harsh on them.
Nevertheless, it also doesn’t hurt that the Lakers, all season long, have been manipulating the foul game to their advantage. In particular, the Lakers have a +387 differential on free-throw attempts for the season, more than double the second-ranked Miami Heat.
Thus, it might be fair to question how much of that has come as a result of their aggressiveness and how much of that is due to some questionable officiating decisions.