Lakers rookie Austin Reaves continues to refine his game and role

Lakers guard Austin Reaves elevates alongside Warriors guard Klay Thompson, who is attempting a layup.
Lakers guard Austin Reaves is in position to attempt a block on a layup by Warriors guard Klay Thompson in the second half Saturday.
(John Hefti / Associated Press)

When the Lakers convened for practice Monday in El Segundo, they didn’t have a film session to point out the good and bad from Saturday’s close loss to the Golden State Warriors.

So, Austin Reaves wasn’t able to watch with Lakers teammates his determined and clutch play.

Reaves scored 13 points in 23 minutes, making all five of his shots and both free throws, to go with three rebounds, two assists and two blocks, including an impressive rejection of a Klay Thompson layup in the fourth quarter. Reaves was jokingly asked by the media after practice if the rookie had a picture of that play hanging somewhere.

“No, no, no,” the shy Reaves said, laughing. “I don’t even … I’ve seen the video a couple times, but I don’t have a picture of it.”


When his two-way contract was converted to a standard NBA contract for two years, Reaves, who went undrafted out of Oklahoma, was starting to establish himself as a solid role player.

Reaves said his role “just evolved over time,” allowing him to average 6.1 points, 2.6 rebounds 1.3 assists and 21.1 minutes per game while shooting 48.8% from the field.

Lakers rookie Austin Reaves played the entire fourth quarter and finished with 13 points, three rebounds, and two blocked shots in a narrow loss.

“When I came in, even on my two-way contract, I knew I wasn’t going to have the ball in my hands. I knew I wasn’t going to be ball dominant so I was gonna have to figure out all the other ways that I could get on the court, first of all,” Reaves said. “First step was getting on the court, just providing, doing all those little things to stay on the court and doing that and then just continue to do that, playing hard, really just trying to just plug the gaps that we have with all the guys that we have.”

His defense, intensity, effort, energy and all-out play endeared Reaves to the Lakers. Coach Frank Vogel offered high praise for Reaves, saying that “his attention to detail is unlike a lot of rookies that I’ve worked with.”

When Reaves missed nine games because of a left hamstring injury, the Lakers knew then he had a role for them.

“He was playing so well up to that point that we felt that he might be a rotational guy when we’re healthy, when we’re fully healthy,” Vogel said. “But then he went down, and obviously we struggled. And it was apparent that we were missing what he was giving us during that stretch. So, we were very eager to get him back, and he’s played well ever since.”

Anthony update

Carmelo Anthony has missed the last four games with a strained right hamstring, but Vogel said “it’s not out of the question that he comes back and plays” against the Utah Jazz on Wednesday night at Arena.

Anthony worked out at practice.

“It’s a hamstring strain,” Vogel said. “You know how soft tissue things are: They always feel good until they don’t. And you ramp up your work and you manage and evaluate how it feels the next day. And if there’s soreness, you just give it more time.”

Vogel congratulates Rams

With his team in a three-game losing streak and having an uninspiring season with a 26-31 record, Vogel was asked if the Lakers were inspired seeing the Rams win the Super Bowl on Sunday.

Vogel mentioned how the Lakers won the NBA championship in 2020 and the Dodgers claimed the 2020 World Series.

“I don’t know if it does anything for the spirits of our group other than we’re super happy for the Rams,” Vogel said. “Coach [Sean] McVay did a great job getting his group through to the finish line and on top. I want to wish them a congrats. And I’m just happy for the fans of the city.

“You know, they got to see the Lakers, Dodgers and Rams all win a championship in a short period — I’m not even sure because of the bubble, exactly [how long it was] … was it two years, three years? But super happy for the fans of our city and I think there’s always positivity to our group and what we want to accomplish this year, seeing what the Rams did.”