Lakers: Austin Reeves recalls moment he knew LeBron James trusted him to run offense

Austin Reeves has become one of the Los Angeles Lakers’ most important players, and the 25-year-old recalled knowing he finally had the trust of superstar teammate LeBron James.

“There wasn’t any real dialogue or anything off the field,” Reeves said. “I always knew, from day one, we connected on an IQ level and just thought about the game differently than everyone else.

“But the thing that stood out to me — it was in the playoffs, it was Game 1 against Memphis — was when I had to really play four quarters. I struggled in the first half, and I Thought I was 2-for-7 in the half and then got going in the fourth quarter. I remember, I think I hit two buckets in a row and somebody, I think (Desmond) Bane was probably in A 3-pointer went off the right side and it came off and I don’t know if DeLorean (D’Angelo Russell) got the rebound or who or Vando (Jared Vanderbilt) got the rebound. But I was on the left, and I just went and ran. They passed the ball to LeBron, and – I think it was before I made the three – as I ran down the court, I heard LeBron say I yelled, “AR, come back! ” He just threw the ball to me. I was like, “Oh—”

“I’ve got the greatest player, you know in my opinion, the greatest player of all time, and I don’t want to say take my word for it right now, but just give me the ball and be like, ‘Okay, you got something. Do’, do something.

“Because he knows me, I don’t care if I score, if I can play for other people. He knows I just want to win. But when that happens, obviously in my brain, it should probably go somewhere else. But I Sitting there all the time thinking, ‘I can’t mess this up – I’ve got to make something good happen. I don’t care if I miss the shot, no matter what. We’re going to get a good chance no matter what. But there’s got to be Good things happen. I can’t come back and I can’t take a bad shot.” But I think I came down and made a three, and then, the same thing gave me the ball again.

“From that point on, I could tell the level of trust was even higher than I knew at the time.”

Reeves was referring to last season’s first-round playoff series against the Memphis Grizzlies, which the Lakers won in six games. The University of Oklahoma product became a rising star in the playoffs, helping Los Angeles defeat Memphis and a series win over the Golden State Warriors before being eliminated by Denver in the 2023 Western Conference Finals. Nuggets sweep.

In 16 playoff games, he averaged 16.9 points, 4.4 rebounds and 4.6 assists per game, shooting 46.4% from the field and 44.3% from three-point range.

After a very successful offseason for the Lakers, which included signing Reeves to a four-year, $56 million contract extension as a restricted free agent, the Lakers are back in the playoffs this season and making another run at it. The playoffs appear to be just around the corner. They also re-signed Russell and Rui Hachimura, while adding Gabe Vincent, Cam Reddish, Taurean Prince, Jaxson Hayes and Christian Wood. and returning veterans James and Anthony Davis.

According to reports, the Indiana Pacers may also consider bringing in the veteran if they decide to waive Buddy Hield.

Reeves continued to make a name for himself during the offseason with a stellar performance for Team USA at the 2023 FIBA ​​World Cup, with one prominent Lakers player calling him a “terrifying monster.” As a substitute, he represented the US team in eight championship games, averaging 13.8 points, 2.8 rebounds and 2.4 assists per game, ranking fourth.

Reeves reportedly expects to play a larger role with the Lakers in the 2023-24 NBA season and has been working closely with the Lakers’ strength and conditioning team. He said his first goal is to bring the championship back to Los Angeles after falling short of that goal last season.

Having the support and trust of one of the greatest players of all time should give Reeves the confidence to handle the additional on-court responsibilities and help his teammates aim for the ultimate goal of an NBA championship.

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