How good is Austin Reaves? How you answer that question probably guides how you answer this question: Will Lebron return to the promised land? I’m here to tell you that Austin Reaves is no longer a fun secret-weapon; he is a legitimate low-level all-star talent; In fact, he will be an All-Star next season. Yeah, I said it. I also said “low level” to give myself room to backtrack. I’m hopped up on Peach Celsius and don’t plan on walking any of this back!
Will Austin Reaves Be an All-Star Next Season?
Proof is in the Pudding
Austin Reaves’ regular season line last year is underwhelming: He averaged: 13.0 points, 3.0 rebounds, and 3.3 assist. His shooting splits are where it starts to get interesting. He shot 52.9% from the field, 39.8% from three, and 86.4% from the line. On top of this, he had an otherworldly true shooting percentage of 68.6%. That’s good for 4th in the entire NBA–and there’s no other guard in the top 10!
And keep in mind the tumultuous regular season the Lakers had. It was riddled with a Russell Westbrook “lack of variety” show, huge midseason trades that transformed the team, AD’s injury issues, and a race to make the play-in that had the Lakers playing what amounted to playoff games for the last three weeks of the season. Taking this all into account, and considering that AR didn’t really begin to start consistently until the midseason mark, these numbers are exciting. And in the playoffs there was a continual (and rapid) elevation, showing us how effective Austin Reaves really is.
Let’s not forget the national media midseason. No one expected the Lakers to come close to sniffing a Western Conference Finals. The Lakers were mocked as a carnival for geriatrics. Aging stars imploding, giving the world one last show of disastrous proportions. If it wasn’t the Nash/Dwight Sports Illustrated cover, it was close. And then Pelinka unbuttoned his far too tight blazer and took a gamble. Two sharp trades later and an injection of youth minutes and the Lakers found a new look and a new lease on life.
AR Has Arrived
In this transitionary period, Austin Reaves ascended. His rise gained momentum through the playoffs and revealed a hidden gem. He had waited for his moment and was, evidently more ready for it than anyone ever expected. At least, anyone on the outside. Inside the team, apparently they “been knew”. Listen to this LeCap interview for further evidence. Let’s revisit that playoff run though. When the bright lights were on, Austin Reaves improved in every statistical category across the boards. He averaged 16.9 points, 4.4 rebounds, 4.6 assist, and shot 46.4% from the field, 44.3% from 3, and 89.5% from the line. Top 15 in TS% in the playoffs and top 10 if you account for players that played more than 6 games. I ask you…who is Austin Reaves? How good is Austin Reaves?
I’ll answer actually. No cliffhangers. I’d say good to very good. I hope that’s not too straightforward. He’s a confident ball handler. He’s magician-like, often setting people up, using his body to create space, dribbling with purpose to create angles, etc. He has a hint of Nash, a hint of Ginobili and a dash of Paul Pierce. He’s more physical, he’s more savvy, he’s more confident, than you expect. He knows how to be effective and get the most out of a possession, plus, has the skills to ISO when all else fails. His IQ is high and there’s no need to take it from me, he passed the eye test. And I’m not looking through my eyes, I’m looking through the eyes of a savant and arguably the best player of our time, if not ever (aforementioned “LeCap”).
LeBron Passes the Baton
In the playoffs, we saw something we haven’t seen LeBron do since he played with Kyrie or Wade, he took a step back. For AUSTIN REAVES! In real time we saw the floor general cede the floor. It’s one thing to impress a national audience, it’s something else to be handed the reins from the GOAT.
And when handed the reins, Reaves demonstrated vision paired with pace that spreads confidence to the team. He makes the right decision more often than not and when he makes the wrong decision he keeps his dribble alive and finds a way to get a bucket. The man does a little bit of everything really well. The spice cabinet is full.
Well yeah, all this sounds great BUT ALSO it’s not even the best part. The glue to his game is his demeanor! His ancestor, The Mamba, lives in his soul. That’s actually what makes him great! He’s not an elite athlete. He’s not especially fast although he’s quicker than people realize. He looks like a junior senator from Nebraska interested in “compromise”. Physically, he’s mediocre. Yet…yet! Mentally. He’s a cold blooded killer. Furthermore, Reeves plays with a level of determination and lack of fear that inspires confidence in others. He’s accountable, a steady hand and contributor that doesn’t take plays off and doesn’t get down on himself. He doesn’t complain about calls. Austin doesn’t argue with teammates, and is a steady and unshakable force.
The Last Word
AR has the intangibles that give a player an edge. A player’s greatness is often defined at the margins and he has a small encampment settled out there. Austin Reaves will be a low level All-Star next season. Therefore, his stats may not reflect it on a team with a unicorn and a unibrow but all of the talent is there. Give him the rock and watch what he do wit’ it!