The Los Angeles Lakers managed to keep the core together. That was the plan from the very beginning of the current offseason. After the terrific changes made in the mid-season, the LA side was sure to keep the same team. The mid-season changes helped them reach the Western Conference Finals. Most importantly, they ensured the roster had depth and balance. That’s how a team becomes a contender for the next season.
The 17-time champions do look like a favorite to win the title next season. Mainly because of the presence of Austin Reaves on the roster. It has been an incredible journey for the Arkansas native. From being an undrafted player in 2021 to being the new hope of the 17-time champions in 2023 has been a sensational rise. Moreover, Austin Reaves signed a contract extension for four years worth $56 million. Many experts believe the Lakers became a top contender for winning the next season as soon as they extended AR’s contract.
NBA Scout Believes Lakers Are Favorites Because They Extended Austin Reaves’ Contract
Recently, a Western Conference scout told ESPN that the Lakers are on the right track. The scout mentioned Gabe Vincent has been a good addition to the Laker’s roster. Moreover, Vincent proved last season he is a solid player representing the runners-up, the Miami Heat. But the scout mentioned resigning Austin Reaves is alone a great offseason for the Lakers. As per the scout, when a team has a player so good as AR, they increase their chances automatically to win the title. Initially, Austin Reaves did not get a chance in the starting lineup. But last season, he started in 22 games.
In 64 games, Reaves averaged 13.0 points, 3.4 assists, and 3.0 rebounds. Moreover, Austin Reaves displayed incredible consistency and accuracy throughout the season. In the conference finals, Reaves and James were lone warriors for the Lakers. D’Lo Russell and others were really disappointed. Anthony Davis helped build the strongest defense last season. But the strongest offense of Nikola Jokic and Jamal Murray turned out to be too much for the LA side. The Lakers will hope they don’t mess things up in the playoffs next season like the last time.
LeBron James And Anthony Davis Were Instrumental In Discovering AR
The LA franchise sure wants to get to 18 title victories before their rivals, the Boston Celtics. But last season was the first time that they reached the conference finals since the 2019-20 season. Hence, the Lakers could not maintain consistency in the previous seasons. But the second half of the last season sure was promising. However, if there was one standout player from the previous season for the Lakers, then it has to be Austin Reaves.
The Arkansas native has been a spectacular find for the 17-time champions. Thanks to the keen eye of LeBron James and Anthony Davis from their 2021 minicamp in Las Vegas. The Oklahoma Sooners kid was able to impress the two top stars of the Lakers with his incredible basketball IQ. Later, it only took Austin Reaves to get to his sophomore year to become the most valuable player on the team behind Anthony Davis and LeBron James.