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Josh Reaves is playing for a roster spot

The defensive-minded player is proving that he has what it takes to compete at a professional level.

2019 Las Vegas Summer League - Croatia v Dallas Mavericks Photo by Bart Young/NBAE via Getty Images

LAS VEGAS—Summer League gives some players the opportunity to highlight their skills as they hunt for elusive roster spots in the NBA or internationally. One such player currently chasing his professional aspirations is Dallas Mavericks guard Josh Reaves. Through four games, he’s shown that he’s worthy of the attention that he’s getting.

In Las Vegas, Reaves averaged 11 points through his first three games on 36 percent shooting. In Dallas’ fourth game on Wednesday against the Croatian national team, Reaves had a breakout scoring performance in a starting role. He rattled off 15 points on only six field goal attempts. He also recorded three rebounds, two assists, one steal, and one block as Dallas held on to win, 79-71.

Even though he’s proved that he can score against the competition in the desert, Reaves’ true calling is on the defensive end of the court. Mavericks Summer League head coach Mike Weinar likes what he brings to the team defensively.

“He is very well coached and he brings an edge,” Weinar said. “We talk about leverage, imposing some leverage on our opponent, we’re going to try to do that. He’s a good example of defensive leverage.”

You can see it in the way he plays. He fights through screens, stays tight on his man, draws offensive fouls, and disrupts passing lanes. For Reaves, defense is more than just part of the game, it’s part of his personality.

“It’s definitely a cornerstone of my basketball career,” Reaves said about his defensive tenacity. “I’ve really tried my best to perfect it. I try to keep working at it, try to anticipate as much as I can. I try to know where the ball is going to go next, try to read plays. Defense is something I really take pride in. I find it fun. I feel like that’s what my niche is going to be if I try to make a roster.”

And that’s the next step for Reaves. Right now, he has an Exhibit 10 contract with the Mavericks. Exhibit 10 contracts are one-year, minimum salary deals that teams can convert to a two-way contract if they wish. This must happen before the start of the regular season, though. They also allow teams to waive players and remove their cap hit from the payroll.

If the Mavericks are seriously interested in keeping him, they have some time to make their final decision. In the meantime, Reaves is staying focused on playing within himself during his time in Las Vegas.

“I’m just going to take in everything and make the most of it,” Reaves said. “I feel like I’m playing well, doing everything the coaches ask me to do within the system. Hopefully it leads to something. That’s pretty much all I’m doing so far, just playing hard each and every game and just trying to conduct myself as a professional.”