But more important than any of us, at least for determining how much Reaves will see the floor this season, is the opinion of one Frank Vogel. And after the team’s final game of the preseason, the Lakers head coach was asked if Reaves had done enough to earn a role in the team’s injury-riddled rotation.
Vogel mostly ducked the first part of the question, but did admit that Reaves had impressed him.
“He has done enough to earn my trust. I can say that much. I feel good about everything he does out there. He really competes and knows where to be on a defensive end. The shot making was a concern, and he’s really shown to be a shot maker throughout this preseason,” Vogel said of the rookie, who shot 10-29 (34.5%) from deep over six exhibition games.
“What isn’t a concern is his feel and instincts to make plays,” Vogel continued. “He’s excelled with that.”
But has he excelled enough to crack the rotation? Vogel was noncommittal.
“We’ve got a deep team, so I don’t know if that means he’s in rotation or not. But when his number is called, he’s earned my trust for sure in this preseason,” Vogel said.
At least to start the year, there is a legitimate chance that Reaves might earn some burn. How impressive he was during the preseason, training camp and the team minicamp in Las Vegas aside, the team is dealing with real injury issues to start the year, with Malik Monk, Kendrick Nunn and Wayne Ellington all uncertain to be ready for the opener against the Golden State Warriors on Tuesday, and Trevor Ariza and Talen Horton-Tucker out for at least the next several weeks. In the closest thing the Lakers have played to a real rotation in their loss to the Sacramento Kings on Thursday night, Reaves played the most minutes (30) of any Laker other than Anthony Davis (33).
Was some of that padded by Reaves remaining in the game after Vogel threw in the towel with four minutes left? Absolutely. Will teams make things tougher on him as they get some film on the still-mostly-unknown, undrafted rookie? Of course. But Reaves still played a ton of minutes on Thursday, on a night the team mostly used a just nine-man rotation. That would indicate that at the very least, he has a shot to get some real burn if the team continues to have veterans miss time.
And if he continues to play like this when the games start to count, he’ll have earned more than just Vogel’s trust. He’ll have earned a spot in the team’s regular rotation.