The Los Angeles Lakers are playing like a team that loves each other, and the game of basketball, ahead of their showdown with the defending champion Denver Nuggets. For the Lakers, it's a chance to avenge last year's playoff loss. For Austin Reaves, it's a chance to prove yet again, against the best competition, that he really is ‘Him,' as he boasted during the Lakers' early NBA Playoffs matchups last year.

With the dawn of the playoffs arriving this weekend, Reaves took time out to praise and compliment the man he calls his ‘best friend' on the Lake Show's squad: D'Angelo Russell.

Reaves' comments came amid LeBron James' self-described ‘GOAT' comments with son Bryce that have fans in a debating mood. The Lakers' players are doing their best to block out ‘personal' history and storylines ahead of their clash with Serbian sensation Nikola Jokic and Coach Mike Malone's Nuggets.

Now, Reaves is stumping for a Russell re-signing in the City of Angels, ahead of the Lakers' exciting showdown with Denver.

Reaves Lauds ‘Best Friend' Russell 

The Newark, Arkansas native Reaves had high praise for Russell in an interview posted to He hopes the Lakers bring back his ‘best friend,' the mercurial, explosive and heavily-tatted up Lakers shooting guard.

“I want him to be around,” Reaves said. “That's probably my best friend on the team. We hang out off the court and golf a lot together.

“We're constantly in communication and play Call of Duty together,” Reaves added. “He's been one of my closest friends since I've been in the NBA.”

Reaves, Russell's Impact on Lakers Future

D'Angelo Russell and the Lakers have big plans for the future and Austin Reaves hopes D-Lo will stick around for them.
Mar 22, 2024; Los Angeles, California, USA; Philadelphia 76ers guard Kelly Oubre Jr. (9) dribbles the ball between Los Angeles Lakers guard D'Angelo Russell (1) and guard Austin Reaves (15) during the first quarter at Arena. Mandatory Credit: Kiyoshi Mio-USA TODAY Sports

Reaves averaged a shade under 17 points per game last postseason, a coming out party of sorts for the former Oklahoma Sooners star. Reaves averaged one point less per game than his 2023 playoff performance during the 2023-2024 regular season; 15.9 ppg,  while Russell averaged a blistering 18 points per game this season.

The exciting Lakers duo doesn't get a ton of attention with LeBron James and Anthony Davis making most of the headlines but make no mistake about it, they are the X-factors for the Lakers' 2024 playoff run, if there is going to be a run at all, of course. Anthony Davis will need to lock up Jokic as best he can, LeBron James will have to continue his age re-defining play, and Russell will need to score early and often to help the Lakers keep pace with Coach Malone's defending champion Nuggets.

“Obviously, his basketball play speaks for itself with how talented he is and what he can do for our group,” Reaves said about Russell's impact on the team. “We need him to be at our best. When he's playing at his best is when we're playing at our best. Anything we can do or I can do to help him stay around, I'm definitely going to try to do that.”