Austin Reaves might have gone undrafted in the 2021 NBA draft, but that didn’t stop him from impressing in his rookie season for the Los Angeles Lakers.
In fact, Reave’s performances were so impressive that the Lakers fanbase coined him the ‘Hillbilly Kobe’ – a nickname that the young shooting guard didn’t seem too impressed with.
“You can’t really control what [nickname] people give you. I mean, I didn’t come out and say my name was that. There’s been others, like the ‘Hillbilly Kobe,’ that probably aren’t the best thing in the situation that’s going on, with Kobe’s passing,” Reaves told ESPN’s Dave McMenamin during a July 22 interview.
However, during a recent episode of The Draymond Green podcast, the Golden State Warriors forward urged the Arkansas native to embrace his new nickname, and lean into it as much as possible.
“You kidding me? Any Kobe—Hillbilly Kobe? You should be running with that. By the way, if I’m him and they’re calling me Hillbilly Kobe, I’m trying to be in the next White Men Can’t Jump. I’m trying to really run with that,” Green said during the August 4 episode.
Reaves played 61 games throughout his rookie season with the Lakers, averaging 7.3 points, 3.2 rebounds, and 1.9 assists per game while shooting 45.9% from the field and 31.7% from deep – Reaves also notched 19 starts in his debut NBA season.
Anthony Davis Putting in the Work
Despite players such as Reaves stepping up, the Lakers were unable to make the post-season, following multiple injuries to their star players, and a disjointed roster that couldn’t figure out how to play with each other.
Anthony Davis was one of the Lakers’ stars to come in for increased criticism, as he played just 40 games throughout the season – and then he went on to infuriate the fanbase further by admitting he hadn’t touched a basketball between April 5 and June fifteen.
However, according to a July 24 report by long-time NBA Reporter, Marc Stein, Davis has embarked on a grueling off-season – most likely due to the criticism he has received, and his wanting to get back toward an All-NBA level next season.
“Anthony Davis’ surprising disclosure in mid-June that he hadn’t shot a basketball since early April might have been a blessing in disguise,” Stein reported. “Davis, by all accounts, has been working out with increased diligence ever since his comments from him generated a wave of strong criticism,” Stein wrote in his Stein Line Newsletter.
LeBron Wants Westbrook to be Traded
Davis may have had an unimpressive season, but he didn’t receive the wrath of the fanbase in the same way that Russell Westbrook did – despite the superstar guard being the only member of Los Angeles’ big three to remain healthy throughout the season.
Regardless, Westbrook’s limited shooting ability caused no end of issues for the Lakers and ensured that LeBron James was tasked with playing at an elite level despite his advancing years.
And now, it seems that LeBron has realized the fit between himself, Westbrook, and Davis is not conducive to winning an NBA championship, and as such, has made his feelings clear: He would prefer Westbrook to be traded in a deal for Kyrie Irving.
In a July 29 Newsletter, Stein reported that LeBron’s wishes are well known among his teammates, including Westbrook himself.
“As it stands, barring a trade to ship out Westbrook suddenly coalescing after weeks of fruitless talks, (Darvin) Ham is going to have to coach Westbrook, which is bound to be challenging in the extreme given that Westbrook is well aware that the Lakers have been trying hard to move him,” Stein reported. “And that James badly wants Irving to take his place from him,” Stein reported.
There’s no telling if LeBron will get his way, or if Darvin Ham can figure out a way to get his star trio operating together successfully, but with training camp right around the corner, the Lakers front office needs to make a decision, one-way , or another.
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