Thanksgiving is here and if you’re a Los Angeles Lakers fan there currently is not a lot to be thankful for.
The team has improved its play over the last week without LeBron James, but after Tuesday night’s loss to the Phoenix Suns, the Lakers sit at 5-11 which is the second-worst record in the West.
Even though things haven’t gone as planned early in the season for L.A., there have been some bright spots as of late with the top two being the play of Anthony Davis and Austin Reaves, the Oklahoma product with a 6’6 wingspan.
The duo recently propelled the Lakers to three straight wins, giving the fanbase at least some hope that there will be a turnaround when James is able to return.
Davis dominating on both ends
When talking about the current state of the Lakers, it’s impossible to start anywhere else other than the play of Davis.
Lakers fans know what Davis is capable of after watching him dominate the 2019-20 season to lead L.A. to a championship in the Orlando bubble.
Since then though, Davis has been hampered by a multitude of injuries which has led to regression on the court.
During this recent stretch, however, Davis is arguably playing the best basketball of his career, getting back to the dominant two-way force that made Lakers fans fall in love with him.
In his last four games, Davis is averaging 35.5 points, 18.3 rebounds, 2.5 blocks and 2.5 steals while shooting 62.3% from the field and 92% from the free-throw line. He has been ultra-aggressive offensively getting to the basket instead of settling for jumpers. On the defensive end, he has been able to protect the paint while bringing in almost every rebound for an under-sized Lakers team.
On Tuesday night against the Suns, Davis posted a statline that literally has NEVER been done before in NBA history with 37 points, 21 rebounds, two assists, five blocks and five steals.
It remains to be seen where this Lakers team will be at in the standings at the end of the season but if they find a way to make the playoffs then I can guarantee no one will want to face this version of Davis along with James in a seven-game series.
Reaves playing with aggression and has earned respect of teammates
One of the problems for the Lakers this season has been the lack of quality role players producing around their stars.
The one that has though is the second-year guard in Reaves. Although his play isn’t anywhere close to the level of Davis’, Lakers fans have come to expect that level from the latter. With Reaves, he is reaching heights and playing at a level he never has before at the NBA level.
In Reaves’ last five games since James went down, four of which have come in the starting lineup, he is averaging 16.4 points, 3.0 rebounds and 3.4 assists while shooting 61.4% from the field and 53.3% from 3. Overall on the season, there are currently only two members of the 50/40/90 club: Stephen Curry and… AUSTIN REAVES!
It’s clear that Reaves is earning the respect of his teammates and that was evident in the loss to the Suns. Late in the fourth quarter, Reaves was fouled hard by Devin Booker, being hit in the face when going up for a shot.
After Reaves fell to the ground, both Booker and Deandre Ayton stood over him in a taunting manner. That did not sit well with Reaves’ teammates, especially Patrick Beverley who ran over and shoved Ayton to protect his teammate.
Being a second-year undrafted player, it’s not often that someone like Reaves gets that type of respect and support from his veteran teammates. It was good to see them stick up for him though and it’s definitely a sign that Reaves os ingratiated with this group and will hopefully be a member of the Lakers for years to come.