Austin Reaves has clearly been the standout player from the last season. Moreover, the inspiring rise of the Arkansas native has been a hot topic of discussion. Austin Reaves has been truly an inspiration for any aspiring basketball player coming from a small town. He lived in a town of only 1,200 people. Nobody expected AR’s town to make any noise in any way. But Austin Reaves now has been able to put his town on the map. Reaves had to transfer from one college to another for better exposure. Later, the NCAA tournament was in awe of the unbelievable talent of Austin Reaves. However, to an utter shock, nobody drafted the Sooners kid in 2021. Later, he got a call from his agent saying the Lakers would like to sign with him a two-way deal.
He had a few more offers like that, and also, the Detroit Pistons perhaps were looking to draft him in the second round. However, Austin Reaves liked the Lakers deal and joined the summer camp. He was, as usual, impressive, but it was the minicamp of LeBron James in Las Vegas that gave him a major break. King James and Anthony Davis saw the immense talent of Reaves and asked the front office to get him on the roster. Later, it took a few more games for Reaves to prove his mettle, and he got his rightful place in the starting lineup. Just two years after nobody drafted him, praises and accolades keep coming AR’s way. But that doesn’t bother him. However, the doubters do push their buttons.
Austin Reaves Says There’ll Always Be Doubters As He Might Always Have The “Underdog” Status
The Arkansas native did not take much time to be the star in his state basketball. But the problem was his school and college did not give him the proper exposure he was looking for. He moved from Witchita State Shockers to Oklahoma Sooners college teams. Recently, in an interview with Tomer Azarly of Clutch Points, Austin Reaves mentioned that the doubters encouraged him to reach where he is today. He had to do it the hard way. After his career ends, Austin Reaves wants to tell all his doubters to just “F**k off.” Moreover, Austin Reaves mentioned nothing would change his mindset. In the interview, Reaves also talked about people comparing him with Jeremy Lin, a former New York Knicks player. Like Lin, Reaves has also been an undrafted player.
But Jeremy Lin failed to live up to expectations after signing a lucrative deal with the Knicks. In the current offseason, Austin Reaves signed a four-year contract worth $56 million with the Lakers. AR told Azarly that the underdog status might never go away from him no matter what. Austin Reaves knows that a lot of people still doubt his abilities. He would like to prove them wrong. Moreover, Darvin Ham revealed Austin Reaves will be part of the team’s starting lineup in the 2023-24 season. If it were not for AR’s consistency, the Lakers would not reach the Western Conference Finals last season. Currently, the Lakers Faithful see him as the third most important player behind LeBron James and Anthony Davis on the team. It seems AR is ready to take the responsibility as well.
But Who Has Been The Most Improved Player of The Lakers?
Rob Pelinka compared AR to Kobe Bryant, saying Reaves has that Mamba gene, which is why he cares about helping his team win more than any personal accolades. It has only been a couple of seasons for him. But he is already making a lot of noise playing an essential role for the Los Angeles Lakers. However, according to Bill Plaschke of the Los Angeles Times, Rob Pelinka has been the most improved player of the LA Franchise. Like Reaves, the Lakers GM also had to face a lot of doubters. People called him lucky because they felt he got the job easy. After all, Rob Pelinka was a long-time friend and agent of Kobe Bryant. Moreover, the Lakers legend Magic Johnson called Pelinka a “Backstabber.”
All these criticisms kept coming despite the Lakers winning the 2020 bubble championship. But things changed after last season when the Lakers were able to turn things around miraculously. They were in no position to make the postseason. Moreover, the Lakers had no balance and a lot of injury concerns. But Rob Pelinka showed his strategic genius as he made some brilliant trades, and the Lakers found much-needed balance. Eventually, the Lakers were able to reach the WCF. Moreover, in the offseason, the Lakers GM did a great job to make his team look like a title contender for next season. Lately, many doubters and critics of Pelinka, including Magic Johnson, claimed Rob deserves the Best Executive of the Year Award.