Photo: Los Angeles Lakers/Twitter

As Austin Reaves enters his third season with the Los Angeles Lakers, his journey from going undrafted in 2021 to securing a new four-year, $53.8 million contract and becoming a pivotal player for the team continues to impress the team’s general manager Rob Pelinka.

Pelinka, who has closely observed Reaves’ development, attributes the 25-year-old shooting guard’s success to his unwavering work ethic and team-first mentality.

“Austin’s growth isn’t a surprise to any of us that really scouted him, drafted him and helped develop him to this point,” Pelinka said during a press conference.

“He uniquely has that sort of Mamba gene, where it’s all about the work. It’s about playing competitive on every play. It’s about being a great teammate, not caring about personal accolades, but just the team winning.”

He believes the young talent possesses a unique quality reminiscent of the late Kobe Bryant, often referred to as the “Mamba gene.”

“He exemplifies that, and his growth with Team USA, we’re proud of him. But certainly not a surprise. I think he’s got tremendous respect from other coaches around the league, other players around the league.”

Lakers head coach Darvin Ham, who also spoke at the press conference, echoed Pelinka’s sentiments about Reaves’ character and work ethic.

“Darvin [Ham] and I spent some time around Team USA. Everybody praises him. He doesn’t let any of that get to his head. It doesn’t get him off course; he’s focused on one thing and one thing only, and that’s trying to bring another championship to this organization. So we’ll lean into that type of character – that’s a big part of what we’re re-establishing and building here.”

Reaves’ ascent doesn’t come as a surprise to Pelinka, who believes Reaves’ commitment to the game, competitiveness, and dedication to being a valuable teammate make him an invaluable asset to the Lakers.