Rivers claims Reaves ‘nowhere near’ Poole’s skill level originally appeared on NBC Sports Bayarea
Breakout Los Angeles Lakers guard Austin Reaves has gained league-wide attention during his sophomore NBA season.
The 24-year-old showcased his flashy play and took on a bigger role in Year 2 with the Lakers, and as he’s set to become a restricted free agent this summer, many fans have wondered if Reaves could get paid big like Warriors guard Jordan Poole did before the 2022-23 season.
Despite Reaves’ impressive showing in his second year in the league, though, Minnesota Timberwolves guard Austin Rivers isn’t completely sold on the comparisons of the two young guards.
“I love Austin Reaves,” Rivers said on a recent episode of The Ringer’s “Off Guard” this week. “I love his talent, his best skill is how aggressive he is as a player. He’s aggressive every time he gets the ball. He’s in attack mode all the time. Turn it over, miss a shot, don’t matter.
“He’s not the quickest, can’t jump the highest, not the greatest shooter, not the most skilled, he can do a little bit of everything here and there, he’s aggressive. He attacks. I love it. And he competes.”
While Rivers acknowledged and can appreciate Reaves’ hustle, he doesn’t think it is remotely close to what Poole can do on the court.
“His skill level is not the same as Jordan Poole’s,” Rivers continued. “It’s not even the same realm. It’s not. I don’t know if you see the s–t that Jordan Poole does. The range he has. The shot-making ability.
“If you’re talking skill level — and again I say this as an Austin Reaves fan — I like his game, he’s nowhere near Jordan Poole, let’s not get it twisted.”
After averaging 7.3 points on 45.9 percent shooting from the field and 31.7 from 3-point range in 23.2 minutes played last season, Reaves averaged 13.0 points on 52.9 percent shooting from the field and 39.8 percent from deep in 28.8 minutes played this season.
He started the final 10 games of the 2022-23 regular season and that hasn’t changed in Los Angeles’ current playoff run. Through the 15 postseason games played thus far, the 24-year-old is averaging 16.9 points on 45.9 percent shooting from the field and 44.2 percent from downtown in 35.9 minutes played.
Poole averaged just 8.8 points in his first season (2019-20) in the league and three seasons later averaged 20.4 points in 30.0 minutes played. He played a significant role in the Warriors’ 2021-22 NBA title and his meme-worthy facial expressions go viral as often as his showy highlights do.
Even though Rivers doesn’t think the two are on the same level, he applauds Reaves’ effort and believes that extra grind could be due to what the Lakers guard is missing in other areas.
“That’s where the other half of this comes. For what Austin Reaves lacks in ability, or maybe certain skill levels in not matching Jordan, he makes up in how hard he plays on both ends,” Rivers said. “Does he play the right way? Can he fit in almost any team system in the NBA? Does he get to the foul line? Is he efficient? Does he know his role? Do his teammates like him, does he buy in? Does he do everything you ask him?
“We just named nine things. So he does all these things well and he’s solid. This guy [Poole], who’s probably a better basketball player and has a skill, is so erratic, that he’s either 30 [points] or two. The highs are high and the lows are low. This guy [Reaves] is just consistent.”
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Back in October, Poole signed a four-year, $123 million contract extension with Golden State. In August 2021, the Lakers signed Reaves to a two-year contract as an undrafted free agent.
There are reports circulating the rumor mill that the Lakers are “determined” to keep Reaves long-term. They, just like Rivers, can appreciate the young guard’s competitiveness and will to do whatever it takes to win.
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