Outside of the play of its Big 3 — and maybe even including some of them — one of the brightest spots this season has been the improvement of Austin Reaves. The second-year guard has assumed a larger role offensively and has been more efficient even still.
He’s not only shooting the best of his NBA career, he’s having perhaps the best shooting season of his basketball career. Reaves was above the 50-40-90 threshold early in the season and while his 3-point shooting has slipped a bit, he’s still holding strong at a respectable 51.1/37.6/90.8 clip.
Even as a college player, Reaves never quite put together as impressive a shooting season as this. Reaves acknowledged a slight change in the emphasis of his form … but there’s no other real secret to it, he said.
“Just a little bit of an emphasis was really getting my follow-through ‘through-through,’” he told SCNG. “Instead of kind of pushing it, really snapping the wrist and holding it, staying in shots was the focus. But really at the end of the day, it was just being in the gym every single day, a couple times a day repping it out.”
Reaves’ 51.1% field goal shooting is far away the best he’s shot from the field in NBA or college. Last season, he’s 45.9% conversion rate was the highest he’d ever managed and in college, the 45% he shot his sophomore season had been the benchmark.
Similarly, his 3-point shooting percentage of 37.6% may not be the highest of his career but considering he is doing that from NBA range and not the college 3-point arc, it still should be ranked as his best shooting season.
According to Cleaning The Glass, while Reaves’ accuracy from corner 3-pointers is nearly identical, it’s the non-corner 3s where he’s made a drastic jump. Last season, he shot 31% on those attempts while this year it’s up to 37%. As a result, he’s gone from a 29th-percentile 3-point shooter overall to ranking in the 60th percentile.
Focusing on improving as a shooter was a great decision by Reaves this summer as well, considering what his role was going to be this year with the Lakers. While he’s been on the bit more, his role next to LeBron James and Anthony Davis is always going to be an off-ball one that requires a lot of spot-up shooting.
And because he focused on the right things and made noteworthy improvements, he’s reaping the benefits as one of the best players on the roster this season.