Austin Reaves, the redneck who has revived the Los Angeles Lakers

Austin Reaves, the redneck who has revived the Los Angeles Lakers

After defeating the Phoenix Suns in the early hours of Thursday (122-111), D’Angelo Russell, starting point guard for the Los Angeles Lakers, was asked what had been the key to the very important victory. “Man, we have Austin Reaves. I’m not going to lie to you. The boy is good,” the star of the Californians explained with humor and forcefulness.

He was not exaggerating, because Reaves, against those from Arizona, went up to 25 points and 11 assists, unthinkable numbers for a player who is living his second season in the NBA, who was not even drafted and who from a very young age played away from the spotlights, first in a small institute of loss Arkansas and then at a couple of universities without much of a pedigree. He is now the new prince of Los Angeles.

At the Staples Center (now the Crypto Arena) they rub hands with Reaves. The Lakers, after a disastrous first part of the campaign, managed to acquire very good players in the February transfer market (the aforementioned Russell, Jarred Vanderbilt, Malik Beasly, Mo Bamba), pieces that completed the puzzle and that they relaunched in the playoff race.

However, on February 26, in a duel against the Dallas Mavericks, where the Lakers signed the biggest comeback of the course (27 points), LeBron James, the undisputed leader of the team, suffered a tendon injury in his right foot, a mishap that still keeps him off the courts. When the drama was chewing hard, Reaves appeared.

Since then, the shooting guard has averaged 18.3 points per game (25 in the last four), as well as showing near-messianic determination in late games (before the Suns added ten points in the fourth quarter). Under his baton, and thanks to a great collective drive and the stellar performances of Anthony Davis and Russell, the Lakers have added a record of seven wins and five losses since James’ injury and are only one and a half wins away from direct entry to the playoffs (they are tenth in the Western Conference less than a month before the end of the regular season). Time for wine and roses for a player who, a little over eight years ago, was surrounded by cows and wheat fields in Newark, Arkansas, a town of fewer than a thousand inhabitants.

El Kobe palette

It is his country origins that have caused Reaves to be nicknamed the ‘Hillbilly Kobe’ (Hillbilly Kobe in English) since his university days, an alias that arose for his scoring ability, which at times reminds us of that of the legend Kobe Bryantand for his first years of life, raised on a farm in Los Appalachia (mountainous region in the southeastern United States), separated from everyone and everything, but always with a basket on the horizon.

Reaves, defended by Devin Booker, one of the stars of the NBA


Through the influence of his parents, both state university legends, he began to fall in love with basketball. After spending two seasons in Wichita State and three at the University of Oklahomasaw how his apparently weak physique made none of the 30 NBA franchises opt for him in the 2021 Draft.

It was then that the Lakers noticed Reaves and, after giving him a temporary contract, they gave him a permanent position on September 27 of that same year. The decision was the right one because, with his innate talent (both facing the rival basket and when assisting his teammates) and with the appearance of a player from the 80s (he wears his pants very tight and high), he has dazzled to the Los Angeles parish that, after two dark seasons, is close to seeing the light at the end of the tunnel.

In addition, this summer the player’s contract ends and from the offices of the gold and purple ones they are already considering making him a renewal offer that can be around fifty million, according to US media. Anything for the boy raised on a farm who has managed to lift the most successful team in NBA history with effort and baskets.


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