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

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After being drafted in 2021, Austin Reaves ended up signing with the LA Lakers. The Purple and Gold have decided to offer Reaves a two-way deal 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 solid bench players for the Lakers. But how exactly did Reaves get 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 his second season with the LA Lakers. But before we take a look at his professional portfolio, let’s focus on how he rose to the big leagues.

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

As a senior, he led his team to the Class 3A state championship averaging 32.5 points, 8.8 rebounds, and 5.1 assists per game. After scoring 43.3 points per game over four games, Reaves was named the state tournament MVP. Additionally, he was picked twice for Class 3A All-State. To sum it up, Reaves was basically one of the best potential players of his time.

By the time Reaves got to college, he ended up playing for two schools. In his first two seasons he played for Wichita State where he played a much smaller role than what he was used to in high school.

Reaves averaged 6.1 points, 2.5 rebounds and 1.6 assists. This is not surprising considering that many high schoolers normally adapt to college basketball.

He was then transferred to Oklahoma in 2018 but did not play until the 2019-20 NCAA season. Reaves’ stats improved significantly the moment he made his debut for the team.

He averaged 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.

In the end, Austin Reaves was not drafted, 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. Indeed, the LA Lakers phoned him before draft night, guaranteeing a bilateral contractual agreement if Reaves was not drafted.

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

“The previous night the Lakers had called,” Reaves said. “And they said if for some reason I didn’t get drafted, they wanted to be the first place to say ‘hey, we’ve got a round trip for you. And so going into the draft, we knew I was going to have a two-way contract in Los Angeles, 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 push it. I think Detroit called 41 or 42, whatever pick they had, and they said ‘we’re going to take it in both ways,” and it was really more of a situation where I wanted to be where we saw the best fit.”

Austin Reaves’ move ended up paying off as he now plays a vital role in the LA Lakers rotation. He’s one of the strongest role players on the team, averaging 9.8 points, 3.2 rebounds and two assists per game this season. Reaves are effective from the field shooting 51.1%.

His best game by far was when they beat 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 it offers awesome games out of nowhere. He constantly scrambles for the ball, secures big rebounds and is shrewd at finishing on the edge. The Lakers are no doubt happy to have him on the roster.

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By Peter Kavinsky

Peter Kavinsky is the Executive Editor at