Published on April 7th, 2012 | by Bryant West, Columnist0
2012 NBA Draft Prospect Stock Watch: Austin Rivers
Name: Austin Rivers
Hometown: Winter Park, FL
Physicals: 6′ 4″, 200 lbs, 19 years old
NBA Position: Shooing Guard
Current Stats: 15.5 PPG, 3.4 RPG, 2.2 APG,2.3 TPG, 1.0 SPG, 43.3% FG, 65.8% FT, 36.5% 3P
The class of 2012 is full of players carrying around question marks. Can Terrence Jones keep motivated? Why didn’t Andre Drummond dominate college? Can Perry Jones play a full game without looking terrified?
But for being mocked to go in the mid to late teens, no ones question marks have been (or will continue to be) more publicized than Austin Rivers.
Rivers is the son of Boston Celtics Head Coach Doc Rivers. He was one of the top recruits in the nation last year, and spent the past season as the only weapon in Duke’s arsenal.
His potential is high, and he’s got some excellent tools. He’s a very solid shooter and should improve from here. He’s a good, if not elite athlete, and he knows how to use his body to get through defenders to the basket. When he’s hot, you can’t leave him alone anywhere on the court—his full offensive potential is definitely lottery worthy.
So what’s holding him back? Pretty much everything else, in one way or another.
Hit the jump for the rest of Bryant’s report…
He’s not a good defender, and at times at Duke he didn’t even seem to care on the other end. In stretches, he seemed not to care at all—he definitely has a questionable motor.
He also had problems getting his teammates involved, often displaying a terrible shot selection. This is perhaps his biggest problem, because as an undersized guard, he should have by now learned to play as a facilitator. Instead, he is strictly a shooting guard in a point guards body.
Here is an excellent breakdown by ESPN’s Chad Ford -
Rivers has clearly modeled his game, demeanor, everything after Kobe Bryant. He has a ton of NBA moves in his arsenal and has the swagger. The problem is that Rivers is no Kobe.
Kobe was an all-world explosive athlete. That allows him to do things that Rivers tries to do, but isn’t nearly as successful at. Scouts expect that Rivers’ lack of explosive athletic ability will become even more apparent at the next level.
For Rivers to have a really successful NBA career, he’s going to have to drop the Kobe act and become a better shooter and really work on that floater.
Like many players in this draft, if he ends up in the right situation with the right coach that can properly mold him and overcome his mental issues, he could vastly improve his value. But he’s a risky one.
Draft Watch: Oh sure, what team with a late-teens or early-twenties pick DOESN’T need a shooting guard with excellent untapped potential held back only by character/motivation issues? Denver, Philadelphia, Dallas, Memphis, Orlando, the Clippers… honestly, Rivers could go anywhere after pick 10 or so and it shouldn’t be a surprise.
But please, oh Basketball Gods, hear my prayer. Keep Austin in the draft until Boston drafts. They’ll be anywhere from 17 or so to about 23, depending on the last two weeks of the season (they’re currently slotted at #19) and that’s a realistic placement for Rivers to go.
Rivers in Boston being coached by his father, Rivers Senior, would be either the best thing for both Austin AND Boston… or the worst thing for both. But either way, it would awesome too watch.
On one hand, working under his father might help Austin calm down and develop some consistency in his game. Working with Rajon Rondo and the remains of the once feared big three, Austin is alleviated of the pressure of being the number one option – at least for now. Slowly but surely, with some of the best veterans in the league, he blossoms into the top prospect scouts always predicted he could, and paired with Rondo, helps Boston skip the rebuilding phase.
On the other hand… Austin goes into Boston expecting to get a free pass thanks to his daddy being coach. He can’t mesh with an already troublesome Rondo, and whenever he’s on the floor he continues to force the issue like he did at Duke. The big three get traded away before they can help him develop, and slowly but surely, he devolves from a “talented prospect” to a “bench player” to a “he’s only getting playing time because his dad is the coach”. Finally faced with the inevitable, the Boston front office can’t even trade him, because it would seriously piss of Doc. In effect, adding Austin to the equation makes all of Bostons existing problems bigger.
And that is why Austin Rivers needs to be drafted by Boston.
Conclusion: His talent and potential would normally make him a lottery lock, but with his questionable attitude, often selfish play and poor shot selection, he has no one to blame but himself if he falls. He could have used another year in college, but hopefully it works out the best for him.