The Lakers have completed media day and now move on to full practice mode. The team has an exhibition game in less than a week against the Sacramento Kings, which they hope to use to build momentum into a tough opening season start.
The guard rotation is still a heavy topic of conversation, as new coach Darvin Ham will have his hands full trying to allocate minutes for everyone. Russell Westbrook looks like he will return to the floor in a Laker uniform, while the team added guards Lonnie Walker, Patrick Beverley, and Dennis Schröder this summer. Kendrick Nunn is also said to be healthy and projects for a rotation role.
That leaves Austin Reaves in a precarious position as training camp begins. The reports were that the Lakers might even view him as a small forward on this team, bumping him up to the 3 to create more minutes at the guard spots. He expressed that he used the summer to get physically stronger, listing himself at 210 pounds.
In the catastrophe that was last season, Reaves is the only real piece the Lakers got from last year. No other role player is returning that played any significant minutes next to the stars.
His defense was positionally good, but he lost the expected strength battles for a rookie. Reaves was one of the few to give multiple efforts as the help guy on rotations, to box out and draw a charge on the team. His high motor, and defensive disciple with IQ stood out on a team full of older vets that gave lackluster effort night-to-night.
He instantly showed he belonged on the floor, becoming a connector for the offense. He made quick and correct reads on his passes or drives to the rim. The chemistry with James was palpable, being able to make plays or scores on the advantages created. The synergy of the two gave off some shades of Alex Caruso.
His confidence with his ball handling rose as the season continued, getting more possessions to develop and run on-ball actions. It culminated in the final game at Denver, posting a 31-point, 16 rebounds, and ten assist triple-double in an overtime win.
On this week’s episode of “I Love Basketball” Raj and Cooper dive into whether Reaves should start, and what the expectations should be in his second year.
You can listen to all that and more on our latest episode in the player embedded below, and to make sure you don’t miss a single one moving forward, subscribe to the Silver Screen and Roll podcast feed on iTunes, Spotify, Stitcher or Google Podcasts.
And for a short-form recap pod, check out Lakers Lowdown, in which Anthony Irwin recaps the previous day’s news and gets you ready for the day ahead in LakerLand, every weekday morning on the Silver Screen & Roll Podcast feed.