Austin Reaves became an instant fan favorite for the Los Angeles Lakers when he arrived on the team in 2021, and then the Lakers fanbase's love for him reached new heights when Reaves broke out in a starter's role to end the 2023-24 season. In fact, Reaves' importance to the Lakers reached the point where pundits believed the would command a gigantic contract in free agency.
However, Reaves, in the 2023-24 season, has failed to take his game to new heights. With LeBron James, Anthony Davis, and D'Angelo Russell all needing the ball on offense, the Lakers coaching staff even decided that bringing Reaves off the bench is what's best for the team.
Lakers fans can debate all they want about the merits of bringing Austin Reaves off the bench, but at the very least, former champion with the Purple and Gold Danny Green agrees with Darvin Ham's decision to utilize the 25-year old guard as the team's sixth man.
“I think it's a good move for the Lakers. With the ball-handling of D'Angelo Russell, you got LeBron James on the ball, you don't need too many guys on the ball in the [Lakers] 1st unit…This gives [Austin Reaves] more freedom, it gives him a spark off the bench, another aggressor offensively,” Green explained on FanDuel's Run It Back.
Austin Reaves' usage rate has remained steady despite the change in his role; from 21.1 percent as a starter, his usage is now at 21.0 percent as the team's sixth man. But the Lakers have a much better balance in their rotation when Reaves comes off the bench, avoiding too much of a drop-off whenever LeBron James needs a breather.
But since his move to the bench, Reaves has shot the ball much more efficiently, improving around eight percentage points on his field-goal percentage and around six percentage points on his three-point shooting. As Danny Green pointed out, the move to the Lakers bench has helped the young guard get a much better rhythm as a more featured option.
“It's better for him. Yes he can pick and choose and have more opportunities for his spots. It seems to be working out,” Green said.