How did Austin Reaves end up with LA Lakers? Tracing shooting guard’s NBA journey

Phoenix Suns v Los Angeles Lakers
Phoenix Suns v Los Angeles Lakers

After going undrafted back in 2021, Austin Reaves ended up signing with the LA Lakers. The Purple and Gold decided to offer Reaves a two-way contract that allows him to play for both the main roster and their G League affiliate.

Ultimately, his number was called for a total of 61 games last season and became one of the Lakers' solid bench players. But how exactly did Reaves make it to the NBA?

Let's take a look at the trajectory of Austin Reaves' basketball career.

Austin Reaves' NBA Journey

Austin Reaves is a 24-year-old NBA guard playing in his second season for the LA Lakers. But before taking a look at his professional portfolio, let's focus on how he made it to the big leagues.

Austin Reaves attended Cedar Ridge High School in Newark, Arkansas. He won consecutive Class 2A state championships in his first two seasons. One of the best highlights of his high school life was when Reaves scored 73 points over Forrest City High School in a triple-overtime victory.

As a senior, he led his team to the Class 3A State Championship with an average of 32.5 points, 8.8 rebounds, and 5.1 assists per game. After scoring 43.3 points per game over the course of four games, Reaves was named the state tournament's MVP. Additionally, he was chosen for Class 3A All-State twice. To sum things up, Reaves was basically one of the top prospect players of his time.

By the time Reaves made it to college, he ended up playing for two schools. During his first two seasons, he played for Wichita State wherein he played a much smaller role compared to what he was used to in high school.

Reaves averaged 6.1 points, 2.5 rebounds, and 1.6 assists. This isn't surprising considering many high schoolers normally adjust to college basketball.

He then transferred to Oklahoma in 2018 but didn't play until the 2019-20 NCAA season. Reaves' stats significantly improved the moment he made his debut with the squad.

He averaged a total of 16.3 points, 5.4 rebounds, and 3.7 assists while playing two seasons for Oklahoma. Reaves then announced his entry into the 2021 NBA Draft.

Ultimately, Austin Reaves went undrafted, but there was a major reason behind it. According to the Silver Screen & Roll, Reaves turned down an offer to be drafted by the Detroit Pistons. This was because the LA Lakers gave him a call prior to draft night, ensuring a two-way contract deal if Reaves went undrafted.

Reaves told the draft night story during an appearance on the “94 & More” podcast.

“The night before, the Lakers had called," Reaves said. "And said if for some reason I go undrafted, that they wanted to be the first place that said ‘hey, we’ve got a two-way for you.’ And so going into the draft we knew that I was gonna have a two-way contract in L.A., so we were in a good place with contract stuff and things like that."

He added:

“So going into the draft we didn’t really press. I think Detroit called at like 41 or 42, whichever pick they had, and were like ‘we’ll take him on a two-way,’ and it was really just more a situation where I wanted to be where we saw the best fit.”

Austin Reaves' decision ended up paying off as he is now playing a vital role in the LA Lakers' rotation. He is one of the team's most solid role players, averaging 9.8 points, 3.2 rebounds, and two assists per game this season. Reaves is efficient from the field shooting 51.1%.

His best game by far was when they defeated the San Antonio Spurs on November 20. He scored 21 points and shot 7-of-11 from the field. Reaves is known to be a wild card as he comes up with impressive plays out of nowhere. He constantly hustles for the ball, secures some important rebounds, and is crafty in finishing at the rim. The Lakers are undoubtedly happy to have him on the roster.

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