Austin Reaves at media day

Lakers Supporting Cast Eager To Assist

Austin Reaves arrived for Media Day 2021 – 366 days ago as he quickly pointed out – as an undrafted rookie just hoping find his way on the roster.

At Monday’s iteration, the second-year guard out of Oklahoma was a familiar face, answering questions about his role, this time with certainty of its existence.

“It’s way different,” Reaves said. “[Last season] gave me a better perspective, a better outlook on what’s to come.”

As Reaves was gearing up to fight for a roster spot, Patrick Beverley was ready to help a young Minnesota Timberwolves team to the playoffs. It’s a feat the veteran guard has accomplished in each of his nine healthy seasons in the league, and he’s looking to bring that winning effort to this Lakers team.

“My role doesn’t change no matter what team I go to,” Beverley said. “Impact winning. That’s my role.”

His message since arriving earlier this month has been consistent: do whatever it takes on either end of the floor to do just that. Beverley even added, “It might be me getting kicked out of a game as long as we win.”

Juan Toscano-Anderson, like Beverley, brings his own winning pedigree to Los Angeles. Having won last year’s NBA title with the Golden State Warriors, Toscano-Anderson joins just LeBron James and Anthony Davis has the only NBA champions on the current roster.

Knowing now “what it looks like” to win a title, Toscano-Anderson said he only wants to continue to win more. That desire is what brought the newly minted champion to the Lakers organization as he enters his fourth season in the league.

“I wanted to be with a team that has the capabilities and the potential to win a championship,” Toscano-Anderson said. “I wanted to be in a locker room with guys who could play at a high level and have a chance to win because I want to him. I want to be a part of a winning culture.”

Winning culture was a common point of emphasis for much of the supporting cast, specifically the potential shift needed to cultivate it.  On the floor, that shift takes the form of more wing defenders and shooters like Toscano-Anderson and young wing Troy Brown Jr.

Appearing in 66 games, Brown Jr. averaged over 16 minutes a night shooting league average from deep for a Chicago Bulls team that won 15 more games than the season prior. With a 6-foot-11 wingspan, the 23-year-old is also looking to contribute in new head coach Darvin Ham’s defensive scheme.

“We have to make sure that we’re doing the little things that can help us win games,” Brown Jr. said of he and Toscano-Anderson. “Just being able to knock down shots and play defense is definitely a huge key for both of us, and I feel like that’s why they brought us in here.”

Also arriving in the name of size and shooting, Thomas Bryant is hoping to bring both from the center position for the franchise he began his career with back in 2017.

“It was kinda like a déjà vu moment,” Bryant said of returning to Los Angeles. “I’m loving it. I’m relishing every moment of it. To be able to be back in this facility, put on this Lakers uniform, it’s a blessing.”

Bryant is a career 35 percent 3-point shooter, and he said he’s been “really dialed in” shooting both from the corner and above the break. The new Lakers big man has topped 40 percent from long range twice in his young career, something he believe “really helps” Ham shape this new roster.

Part of that infusion of shooting into this new roster, will be the addition from within of Kenrick Nunn, who missed the entire 2021-22 season due to injury.

“It definitely tested my patience,” Nunn said of the injury. “I feel healthy now. I feel full go, and I would say I’m ready.”

In both of his seasons in the NBA, Nunn shot at least 35 percent from three on nearly six attempts per game. On last year’s roster, only James topped that level of 3-point volume. His return only increases the backcourt depth and competition, but Nunn isn’t concerned with how the pieces ultimately shake out.

“I’m looking forward to just competing,” Nunn said. “Looking to see what combinations go well together, and really just going out there and having fun. At the end of the day we’re teammates, and we’re going to be playing together.”