Interview with Pelicans’ Draft Prospect – Austin Reaves

Austin Reaves is a 6’5” guard who played for the Oklahoma Sooners. Averaging 18.3 points, 5.5 rebounds, and 4.6 assists, Reaves shined his senior year as a versatile initiator and playmaker. Reaves was able to not only score from all over the court, but his playmaking made him a dangerous threat creating for others. One area he particularly he excelled at was getting to the free throw line, averaging 6.8 free throws per game. On Monday July 12th, Reaves worked out for the New Orleans Pelicans along with 5 other prospects. Among those at the workout were Chris Duarte, Aaron Henry, Feron Hunt, Romeo Weems, and Mitchell Ballock. Sources say Reaves had the strongest showing of the group. After his workout, Reaves took some time to interview with Bourbon Street Shots.

Minor edits were made to the transcription for readability.

Did you get a chance to take in any of the city or eat any of the food?

Not much to be honest. I mean when you get in somewhere, you’re usually tired, you might order some food. You can try some different things around just on Uber Eats or you can go walk around a little bit, but other than that it’s really just get to your hotel, eat a little food, sleep and go workout.

How was the workout with the Pelicans structured?

It was a group workout structure, like basically everywhere else you go. They bring in 6 guys so you can play 3 on 3, 2 on 2, 1 on 1 and stuff like that. Going through this process you meet new people every day, it’s hard to retain names that you hear. New people, new faces every day.

Are you familiar with the players on the Pelicans roster and how do you see yourself maybe fitting in with guys like Zion Williamson and Brandon Ingram?

I’m a basketball head, so I watch a lot of basketball. I’m familiar with the guys that they got. Really just the way that I go in and fit is by being a good teammate, being versatile, being able to do multiple things. Like I said, I’m probably one of the most competitive people ever, so just going in and competing and giving it a 110 percent everyday is going to something that guys like Zion and Brandon Ingram really respect from younger guys. 

You’re right around their age group as well

Reaves laughs, “That’s very true”

You do a lot of things on and off the ball as well as playmake – are there any specific players in the NBA you like to watch or model your game off of? 

Yeah I mean like I said, I watch a lot of basketball. Everyone drift towards more of the superstars in the league, you watch all them so you can take little things here and there but I’m a realist, I understand what I’m going to do and how I’m going to be effective. Someone that I really like to watch and take things from is Joe Ingles. Someone where you look at the end of the game, the stat sheet by his name might not be the best – it might just be very average or could be really good, but if you’re a basketball mind, even in those game where his stats aren’t jumping off the sheet, there’s been multiple things during the game that he’s done that don’t show up on the stat sheet.

Is there a part of your game you feel gets overlooked?
I think passing the ball gets overlooked, some. I wouldn’t say a lot. I feel like I’m really creative with the ball and really creative with getting other people involved. That would be the main thing. 

When you look at the NBA, what do you feel is going to be the biggest challenge transitioning from the college game to the NBA?

Speed and athleticism. In the NBA you’re playing against the best basketball players in the world – the most athletic guys. Also the 24 second shot clock has to do with the speed as well. It’s not long, to be honest, so that’s going to speed up the game for sure. So learning to control that and just recognizing those situations while making it a priority to learn them so when you get there it won’t be as big of an issue.

Do you feel the more uptempo style of the NBA suits your game?

I do. Just being able to get out in transition – not just being able to go finish around the basket, but to get other people involved and find shooters in transition is something I really look forward to.

This is going to be a really weird and specific question. The Pelicans ran some actions where they would have a guard like JJ Redick screen for Zion as the ballhandler. Obviously you’ve been more of a screen receiver than a setter at this point but what do you make of potentially being used in creative ways to get other ballhandlers across different positions involved?

Yeah for sure – like you said, the JJ Redick to Zion ballscreen is a perfect picture. It creates so much havoc. You can’t really switch it, because a guy that’s guarding JJ Redick isn’t going to be as big and physical to be able to hold up with Zion, which not many people really are. But especially as a small guard. Switching it is an issue and he’s (Redick) able to slip the screen and read a lot of different actions and come off of that, being able to use my basketball IQ – it’s something that I look forward to. If not just for me but being able to get an open shot for someone else and create a disadvantage for our team to be successful. 

As you go through these workouts, do you receive specific feedback and coaching that you’re able to take with you to the next workout?

Yeah for sure. Something that I’ve learned is to ask questions and really just pick people’s brains because these guys have been around basketball for X amount of years and they know the game at a high level or they wouldn’t be in the situations that they are in. All the teams that I have worked out for and all the guys that I have met have been generous enough to give feedback and to let you know what you’re doing right, what you’re doing wrong just because they are good people and they want to see you be successful.

Final question – are you keeping up with the finals any? What are your thoughts on that?

I am. I think it’s going to seven – I do. I think after last night, Milwaukee takes game 4 (they did) and it’s back and forth. I think the Suns pull it out in seven. That’s my prediction. It’s kind of looking like the home team won’t lose.

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