Other than two or three stars, every successful NBA team needs role players and complementary players who will sacrifice some scoring and glory in order to do what it needs to win games. Sometimes, that means sacrificing being in the starting lineup and hearing their name announced before the start of a game.
Los Angeles Lakers guard Austin Reaves emerged as an impact player last season, and in doing so, he went from a main piece off the bench to a full-time starter. But with the team struggling to start this season, head coach Darvin Ham decided to shake things up by moving Reaves to the bench and promoting Cam Reddish to the starting lineup.
It worked on Friday. Reddish went 5-of-8 from 3-point range and played active defense, while Reaves scored an efficient 15 points to go along with seven assists in a 122-119 win over the Phoenix Suns.
Afterward, the undrafted guard sounded as if he perhaps didn’t want to be reassigned to the bench, but it seemed as if he had no problem with it. He revealed his team-first mindset by saying he was raised to respect decisions such as this one made by his coach, and that “winning is the main thing” for him.
“My parents taught me at a young age that the coach is the coach, and regardless of the decision, you respect that.” Austin Reaves on his move to the bench, says 'winning is the main thing.' pic.twitter.com/6P6OxWfVIA
— Spectrum SportsNet (@SpectrumSN) November 11, 2023
Regardless, Reaves was on the court for the entire fourth quarter, during which he hit all three of his shot attempts and had five assists to help fuel the Lakers’ victorious rally after they were down by double digits. Head coach Darvin Ham even compared Reaves’ role off the bench to that of Manu Ginobili, the Hall of Fame guard who helped the San Antonio Spurs win four NBA championships.
Reaves has struggled at times offensively to start the season, but he has now played well in three of his last four games, and perhaps he’s turning the corner.