Austin Reaves Working Hard With Lakers Trainers With Goal Of Playing 82 Games This Season
Petre Thomas-USA TODAY Sports

Austin Reaves has been on a trajectory that is relatively unprecedented for an undrafted rookie. In just two seasons, he has gone from two-way contract to standard deal to rotation regular and is now receiving buzz as a potential All-Star candidate for the Los Angeles Lakers.

Reaves has addressed a number of weaknesses in his game through his first two seasons, a part of his meteoric rise undoubtedly. He significantly improved his outside shot between his rookie and sophomore seasons while increasing volume. He became a better ball-handler and passer while bulking up to provide a boost defensively.

One flaw that still remains is his availability. Minor injuries and a rookie wall in his first two seasons limited him to 61 and 64 games, respectively. And while that is still around 75% of the Lakers’ regular season games, he has made it a point to improve in this realm as well.

Reaves has a lofty goal for the 2023-24 season when it comes to his availability, according to Jovan Buha of The Athletic:

One of Reaves’ goals going into next season is to play 82 games for the first time. After hitting a wall midway through his rookie season, he trained hard last summer to be better prepared for his sophomore year. Even so, he appeared to run out of gas at times during the playoffs — most notably between the end of an opening-round series against Memphis and the beginning of a second-round series against Golden State.

He is working with the Lakers’ strength and conditioning team this offseason — including throughout his time abroad with Team USA — to better handle his increasing workload. He also is working to sharpen his ballhandling and playmaking as he prepares to run more of the offense next season. Reaves can shift between either backcourt spot, but says, “I want to get back to playing point guard a little more and what we did at the end of the year. I feel comfortable and like I’m able to do that.”

In his rookie campaign, Reaves missed stretch of 10 and seven games for the bulk of his absent time while missing a handful of games here and there. Last season, 16 of Reaves’ 18 missed games came due to one injury. So improved strength and conditioning could be the only barrier between Reaves and an 82-game campaign.

Playing every game would not only be a huge benefit to the Lakers, who are built around two players likely to miss time, but it would also be beneficial to Reaves’ All-Star candidacy.

Reaves never stopped believing in himself

Despite going undrafted, Reaves never lost faith in his ability to produce at the highest level. The third-year Lakers guard says he was not surprised by his ascension because he always felt it was possible for him. Nothing changed when his name was not called on draft night.

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