Austin Reaves has made a much needed impact and boost for the Los Angeles Lakers after going undrafted in 2021. He declined being selected 42nd overall by the Detroit Pistons, signing a two-way contract with the Lakers in August.

Following the success over the first couple years for Austin Reaves, he found himself in a situation this offseason with several multi year contract deals from teams. In July, he ultimately signed to a four-year, $56 million deal to return to the Los Angeles Lakers.

Lakers’ Austin Reaves Potential Sixth Man of the Year Candidate

From Starter to the Bench

Throughout the 2023-2024 season, Reaves had earned his way to a starting spot for the Lakers. Darvin Ham recently made adjustments to switch Reaves’s role to the bench. Ham said “it wasn’t a demotion.” Rather, it was to see if his energy and productiveness can shine with the second unit. After roughly a month since Reaves has been let off his starting role, we have seen positive results from Ham’s decision.

Analyzing Austin Reaves’ Impact off the Bench

As a sub coming off the bench and shining in his new role, Reaves is averaging 15.1 points, 5.4 assists and 4.9 rebounds. Meanwhile, he has connected on 50.3 percent of his field goal attempts and 39.3 percent of his three-point attempts. With his outstanding performances coming off the bench, it’s safe to say this will be Reaves’s role moving forward with the Lakers.

The bigger outcome than looking at Reaves’s stats off the bench, has been his impact on the scoreboard and wins/losses for the Lakers. The Lakers have outscored opponents by 5.5 points per 100 possessions when Reaves has been on the court and coming off the bench. His numbers have appreciated since and put him as a top candidate for the Sixth Man of the Year award. Reaves ranks third in second unit scoring average behind Bogdan Bogdanovic, Tim Hardaway Jr. and only behind Chris Paul for assists.

Shining Brightest In Big Moments

The individual awards at the end of the year are not solely off of one’s production. Producing in the biggest moments are taken to account when finalizing the 6MOTY winner. Reaves has done that. Whether it was through the 2023 playoffs and the inaugural In-Season Tournament, Reaves has shined brightest in big moments. While battling an illness in the IST Finals, Reaves finished with 28 points, 3 assists, and 2 rebounds in 27 minutes of play. His first half dominance and productive second half ultimately helped the Lakers win the first ever In-Season Tournament. With this feat aside now, Austin wants the greater accomplishment: getting a ring.

The Last Word on Reaves

The switch Coach Ham had made roughly a month ago has shown to be a positive impact for the Lakers that hopefully continues down the line. His production has improved, and the Lakers have had a better record with Reaves coming off the bench. Ultimately, with Reaves’s new role, expect him to be a top candidate for the Sixth Man of the Year award. That will be the case if he continues this level of excellence off the bench.

Akash Mahi, a dedicated enthusiast of the game, is a recognized expert in the domain of tennis balls. With a keen understanding of materials and aerodynamics, he has contributed to the evolution of tennis ball design, enhancing playability and performance. Mahi's expertise continues to impact both casual players and professionals alike.