Los Angeles Lakers’ newfound gem Austin Reaves became the third most valuable player of the team since last season. It has been an inspiring journey for the Arkansas native who went undrafted just two years ago. Nobody can deny the skills and high basketball IQ that the Oklahoma Sooners kid possesses. But it has not been as smooth as AR would have hoped his journey to be.
Going undrafted can be very disappointing and heartbreaking. But the Arkansas native kept his emotions aside and let his skills do the talking. Prior to the training camp, on the Lakers Media Day, a cameraman asked Austin Reaves to join LeBron James and Anthony Davis for a photo. This image represents the current Lakers “Big 3.”
AR Felt Pretty Cool To Be Part Of The Lakers Big Three Image
It was a special moment for the young Reaves. He mentioned in an interview with The Ringer that it was a pretty overwhelming feeling. Austin Reaves added that he won’t lie, but it was a very cool moment for the Hillbilly Kobe. Moreover, Anthony Davis and LeBron James did not hesitate at all before including AR in that image. Clearly, the Arkansas native gained the trust of the top stars of the LA side. Moreover, with LeBron James, Austin Reaves seems to be pretty close. Like they are good friends even outside the basketball realm.
But their friendship started when Austin Reaves realized that they share a unique basketball IQ. There was Game 1 against the Memphis Grizzlies in Round 1 of the last playoffs for the Lakers, and initially, AR had a hard time finding his rhythm. In those circumstances, LeBron James showed trust in the kid and passed the ball to him. That’s when AR realized that even arguably, the GOAT is not willing to give up on him.
It Has Been The Summer Of Austin Reaves
After going undrafted, the Arkansas native signed a two-way deal with the Los Angeles Lakers in 2021. Later, he went to a minicamp of LeBron James in Las Vegas. In that summer camp, Anthony Davis and LBJ noticed the kid. And the top two stars quite immediately asked the front office to get him a permanent contract with the Lakers. They knew that a two-way deal was no good for the incredibly talented Austin Reaves. Finally, when Austin Reaves found his place in the lineup, he was not an immediate choice for the starting lineup. Gradually, the Arkansas native found his place in the starting lineup. Moreover, in his sophomore season in the NBA with the Lakers, Austin Reaves became a fan favorite.
The credit goes to his skills and consistency. After the 2022-23 season was over, AR was heading toward free agency. The Lakers did not think twice before offering him a multi-year deal. They signed AR for a contract extension worth $56 million for four years. Of course, he deserved a deal around $90-100 million. But the presence of LeBron James and Anthony Davis takes a lot of cap space for the Lakers. Hence, the Lakers offered AR the best deal they could. On top of that, Austin Reaves wants to stay as a Laker forever. He’s been a big Kobe Bryant and the Lakers fan since his childhood.