From the ashes of Alex Caruso’s once bright-burning flames, a new pasty, undrafted hero arose for the Lakers: Austin Reaves, 23-year-old rookie from Arkansas that’s taken Los Angeles by storm this season.
Prior to suffering a hamstring strain earlier this month, Reaves was firmly establishing himself as a fan favorite with his energy on both ends of the floor, similar to how Caruso did in his first season with the Lakers. However, Caruso told Bryan Kalbrosky of Hoops Hype that he thinks Reaves is, in many ways, more advanced than he was at his age:
Hoops Hype: What have you seen from Austin Reaves, another undrafted guy who has carved out a role with the Lakers?
AC: I’ve seen a little bit! It’s apparent now – I didn’t realize this when I was on the Lakers – but social media shows all of the Lakers highlights. [Laughs] I didn’t think that was true until I got another team. But he appears to be one of those good glue guys that winning teams need. I think he’s a lot farther along than I was during my first year in the league. I think we have the same mindset of getting better and working hard. Hopefully, he can stick around.
That may come off as Caruso just being humble, but he’s right, especially when it comes to Reaves’ offensive game. Though it’s hard to tell because of his role with the Lakers, Reaves was heralded for his offensive versatility coming out of college. In his senior season with The University of Oklahoma, Reaves averaged 18.3 points per game, making him the second-leading scorer in the Big 12.
Where Caruso has Reaves beat is his defense. Reaves has been a pleasant surprise on that end this season, posting the highest defensive point differential on the team through 10 games, but Caruso will likely make multiple All-Defensive teams in his career, starting with this season.
It’s unfortunate that Caruso and Reaves weren’t able to share the court as teammates, but at least Reaves’ strong start to the season has made Caruso’s exit a little easier to stomach.
Just kidding; it’s still really dumb!