By all accounts, Austin Reaves’ rookie season with the Lakers was as great as it was unexpected. He was able to go from an undrafted free agent to a starter and consistent role player inside of his first season, playing well enough overall to earn a pair of All-Rookie team votes.
Obviously, there was still room to grow even still for as great as he was in his inaugural season. One of those biggest areas for growth would be from his jumper offensively, specifically from 3-point range.
An area in which he struggled even in college, Reaves came into the NBA and shot 31.5% from beyond the arc, which was actually an improvement on the 30.5% he shot from 3-point range in his final season in college. While he had flashes of strong shooting from range, none bigger than his game-winning shot over the Mavericks, it was never a consistent part of his game this season.
Unsurprisingly, it was his 3-pointer then that Reaves highlighted as an area he’s focused on during offseason workouts in an interview with Lakers Nation’s Trevor Lane and Matt Peralta.
“The first thing is be in the weight room as much as possible. Just get stronger and then on top of that, really just work on everything. Really, the main thing is catch-and-shoot threes. Corner threes, for sure. Just working on a little bit of everything every day.”
For those also curious, Reaves revealed that a number of the young Lakers had been taking part in workouts in the Lakers facility alongside him during the offseason.
“We’ve all been in the gym together. Stanley (Johnson), Malik (Monk), Talen (Horton-Tucker), Wenyen (Gabriel), Mason (Jones), seen a lot of them. I lifted with a lot (of them). Most of the workouts are more individual but we’re in the gym at the same time. It’s been a good start to the summer so far.”
Digging deeper into Reaves’ shooting splits shows the two areas were weaknesses for Reaves last season.
When it came to his catch-and-shoot opportunities, Reaves shot 35.6% on 132 attempts, accounting for over three-quarters of his 3-pointers. For reference, in his final season with the Lakers in 2020-21, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope shot 42.0% on those attempts.
Alternatively, on his corner 3-pointers, Reaves shot 36.7% on just 49 attempts. That figure ranked him in the 41st percentile among wings in the league in terms of accuracy and the 45th percentile in frequency.
Both areas were places Reaves struggled during the season and both are areas the team struggled with as well. As a team, the Lakers ranked 20th in the league in corner 3-point percentage at 37.9% on the year. Similarly, the team shot just 35.8% on catch-and-shoot opportunities, ranking 21st.
It’ll be an area the Lakers need to improve upon as a whole, and not just through individual improvement. While Reaves working that aspect of his game makes sense and is wise, the Lakers as a whole should target players that succeed in those aspects. Shooting was a weakness for the Lakers last season overall and the Lakers have to take a step forward in that regard to be competitive.
So, whether through individual improvement from players like Reaves or new additions, the Lakers should be focused on improving not just their general 3-point shooting, but very specific aspects of it.