February 2, 2023 | 10:12 am EST Update
It’s also a big contract year for you. What have you thought about your future? Austin Reaves: I don’t really think that far ahead. I’m just trying to win games. I love being in Los Angeles, and I love being a Laker. Kobe Bryant was my favorite player growing up, so getting an opportunity to play for the Lakers is a big blessing.
Would the Rockets be comfortable with the Raptors asking for both Martin and Eason, along with multiple firsts? Would you, whoever’s reading this, be comfortable with moving on from those two players if it meant bringing in a potential All-Defense player? That’s the tricky thing about these rebuilding phases. There’s a fine line balancing the need to develop young talent and the desire to strike when the iron is hot to bring in veterans who can push the team closer toward contention. Houston fans might not want to hear this, but there are probably better packages out there for Anunoby.
Over the course of his 20 NBA seasons, James averaged at least 25 points in 19 seasons, including 30.2 in 41 games this season, and he has played in at least 90% of his team’s games in 15 seasons. This is a story about numbers, but stats do not tell the entire story. “When you look at those three things, it’s a testament to how he lives his life,” Warriors star Draymond Green told USA TODAY Sports. “I recently said he’s the greatest face the NBA has ever had. Think about the day and age we live in – cameras, social media – he’s never had a scandal. Never been arrested. Never photo’d drunk. Those things go hand in hand with durability, longevity, consistency.
Of the players in his NBA debut game, James is the only one still in the league. Of the players in his draft class, only James remains in the league as a player. Some of his draft class peers moved into coaching (New Orleans’ Willie Green and Luke Walton), the front office (Phoenix’s James Jones, Atlanta’s Kyle Korver), part ownership and other endeavors (Utah’s Dwyane Wade) and wine making (Carmelo Anthony). “The thing that’s most impressive is his ability to do it all again the next day – not just playing the games but doing the work to play games,” said Korver, who played until he was 38 and was James’ teammate in Cleveland during three seasons.
On Twitter, people will mention you with Alex Caruso. What do you think of that? Austin Reaves: Totally different players, but we’re guys that played on the Lakers, and we’re white. We don’t really look athletic. He’s athletic, but I’m not that athletic. I can see why people do it, but we’re two totally different players.
What went through your mind going undrafted on the journey to make your NBA dream a reality? Austin Reaves: I was pissed, to be honest. Obviously, I didn’t feel like there were 60 better players, but the draft’s not all about talent at that moment. It’s about potential and stuff like that, probably after 25 (pick). I wasn’t happy, but I knew I was going to have an opportunity, and that was all it was going to take, someone giving me an opportunity to go prove myself.
Yet, Irving admitted the team he left for the Nets appears to be on a mission, one they have been unable to stop. The Nets will have one more chance to do so in March on a return trip before possibly meeting them in the postseason for the third straight year. “It’s clear as day that they want to win the championship and they’re not wasting any time in the regular season,” Irving said. “So tonight I just felt like we were just one of those teams in the way, and we just can’t be one of those teams in the way. We’ve got to be one of those teams that stands up to them and at least shows them that we’re gonna be competition for them moving forward, which I believe we are, but tonight we just didn’t show it.”
Justin Kubatko: Damian Lillard last night: ✅ 42 PTS ✅ 10 AST ✅ 5 3PM ✅ 15 FTM Lillard has 15 career 40p/10a games, the fifth-most such games in NBA history. He’s just the second player to make at least five 3P and 15 FT in back-to-back games (James Harden). More: open.substack.com/pub/statitudes…