Austin Reaves continues to shine with the Lakers

Austin Reaves, Los Angeles Lakers (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Austin Reaves, Los Angeles Lakers (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images) /

In just his second season in the league, Austin Reaves has shown why he has a long-term future with the Los Angeles Lakers.

The Lakers entered their home encounter against the Orlando Magic on Mar. 19 with their season delicately poised. With a 34-37 record which placed them 10th in the Western Conference standings, and LeBron James still sidelined, it was a complete understatement to say a win was an absolute must.

And as he had shown in abundance in recent weeks, the emerging second-year guard Reaves stepped up to the plate. In his now customary sixth man role, Reaves posted 35 points, six rebounds and six assists against the Magic while also converting on 16-of-18 attempts from the free throw line. This helped cap an elite eight-game stretch of play, which saw the 24-year-old average 19.1 points and 5.5 assists while shooting a sizzling 57.0 percent from the field.

This latest performance was incredibly notable, as it was just the third time in NBA history a reserve had recorded at least 35 points, five rebounds, five assists and 15 made free throws, per Stathead. The previous two were by Pete Maravich (five-time All-Star) and Manu Ginobili (two-time All-Star, four-time NBA champion).

This is not the first time Reaves has posted gaudy numbers in a single outing. With his line of 31 points, 16 rebounds and 10 assists in the final game of his rookie campaign, Reaves became just the fourth rookie behind Oscar Robertson, Jerry West and Blake Griffin to record a line of at least 30 points, 15 rebounds and 10 assists, per Stathead.

The fact that Reaves went undrafted after four years of college basketball, which included a red shirt year, makes this all the more impressive. Following his game against the Magic which resulted in a 111-105 Lakers win, Reaves recapped some of his journey:

"“I grew up a Lakers fan, so to do it for this organization especially is surreal….Obviously I think all the odds are stacked against me where I’m from….but to be at this level and this organization….all I’m really happy about is the win.”"

Overall for the season, Reaves is averaging 12.0 points, 3.0 rebounds and 2.9 assists in 27.9 minutes per game. Notably, his efficiency from the field has been elite, converting at a 51.8 percent clip from the field, 38 percent from three and 85.4 percent from the line. In doing so, Reaves has recorded an incredible 67.0 true shooting percentage, a measurement that encompasses the returns of all three percentages. Among the players this season with at least 300 field goal attempts, 200 free throw attempts and 150 three-point attempts, just three have a true shooting of 67.0 percent or better: Kevin Durant, Stephen Curry and Reaves, per Stathead.

Looking ahead, the Lakers are currently placed a half-game behind the Utah Jazz for the10th place in the standings and hence the spot needed to clinch an appearance in the play-in stage of the playoffs. With a trio of home games coming up, this next stretch is absolutely critical if the 17-time champions wish to extend their season as much as possible.

Next. Why the West playoffs will be the most exciting one in years. dark

But if the recent play of Austin Reaves can hold up, the Los Angeles Lakers are more than capable of posing some serious challenges for their fellow western conference rivals.