Team USA #3: Austin Reaves
Austin Reaves entered the NBA as an undrafted prospect but made a name for himself with the Lakers last season. He was a key contributor to their playoff run and earned himself a big contract, which suggests that the Lakers might be betting on him to continue his rise and become one of their centerpieces of the future. If the Lakers want to make another deep playoff run next season, they need Reaves to play at least as well as he did this past season, but ideally, he will make another jump.
The third season is always a big one for NBA players, and playing for Team USA could prepare him to prove to the basketball world that this is what he really is and that there is more to come. It is up to Reaves now to show that he didn’t just have a good outlier season or simply benefit from playing with LeBron James and Anthony Davis.
On Team USA, he will have to earn his minutes behind guards Anthony Edwards, Jalen Brunson, and Tyrese Haliburton. He will have to fill the gaps, work hard, and show that he can compete with some of these bigger names. Steve Kerr expects his guards to always move off-ball, create their own shots, and fight over screens on defense at the highest level possible. Reaves has the versatility and mentality necessary for that, and if he can get consistent minutes and play well in those minutes, he will be able to put his name in the conversation with a solid group of young stars for good.
Team USA will not only offer Reaves a chance to compete during the offseason, get in shape for his next run with the Lakers, and expand his skillset, but also a chance to silence all the doubters and establish himself as one of the young players to watch from now on.