Friday, January 28 2022
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Another blow for the Los Angeles Lakers: Rookie wing Austin Reaves will be sidelined for at least the next two weeks with a strained left hamstring, the team announced Thursday. Reaves was initially listed as day-to-day and missed Wednesday’s 120-117 overtime win against the Miami Heat.

Reaves joins a long list of hobbled Lakers: 

  • LeBron James has missed the last four games with an abdominal strain. (There have been no updates on James’ status since, one week ago, he was ruled out for at least a week.)
  • Rajon Rondo missed the Heat game with a left hamstring strain of his own. (Lakers coach Frank Vogel described it as “minor.”)
  • Kendrick Nunn hasn’t played since a preseason game on Oct. 10 because of a bone bruise in his right knee. (Vogel said he’s “still a ways away.”
  • Talen Horton-Tucker hasn’t played since a preseason game on Oct. 8 because of a torn ligament in his right thumb that required surgery. (He was recently cleared for contact.)
  • Trevor Ariza had surgery on his right ankle in early October and hasn’t played at all this season. (Based on the initial timeline, he will be re-evaluated in three weeks.)

Reaves has been one of the bright spots for the Lakers in what has been a strange, uncomfortable start to the season. They are 7-5, with a negative point differential and the 24th-ranked offense in the league, per Cleaning The Glass, which filters out garbage time. With Reaves on the court, however, they’ve scored 111.2 points per 100 possessions (the equivalent of a top-10 offense) and allowed 105.1 per 100 (the equivalent of a top-10 defense). 

The sample size (419 possessions) is small, but the numbers back up what was apparent almost immediately: Reaves is important to the Lakers because he’s a connector. He can space the floor, make plays against a scrambling defense and defend multiple positions. This particular Los Angeles roster is short on guys like that.

Reaves started the season out of the rotation but is now averaging 21.3 minutes. For now, those minutes will have to be distributed between the defense-first Avery Bradley, the offense-first Malik Monk, sharpshooter Wayne Ellington and theoretical 3-and-D guy Kent Bazemore, who has shot just 8 for 30 (26.7 percent) on catch-and-shoot 3s this season. 

Losing Reaves is far from ideal, even though the Lakers eked out a victory without him against the Heat. If you’re really searching for a silver lining, I guess it’ll make integrating Horton-Tucker a bit simpler. Lakers fans would surely prefer to see them play together, though. 



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