Austin Rivers: Scouting the Duke Blue Devils SG for the 2012 NBA Draft
Duke ended their season on a very sour note in a first-round loss in the NCAA Tournament. Now, it's time to look ahead to their NBA prospects, and it gets no bigger than shooting guard Austin Rivers. The son of former NBA player and current NBA coach Doc Rivers, Austin really impressed many throughout his short collegiate career.
Although he was only a true freshman, Rivers has decided to declare himself eligible for this year's NBA draft. Did he make the right decision, or will he regret it because he has many things to work on before heading to the next level?
Let's breakdown his game and see where he can help a team out, and where he may need some work.
Position: Shooting Guard
Size/Weight: 6'4", 200 pounds
Rivers is a flat-out scorer. He shot a high percentage from the field at 43 percent, and made 36 percent of his shots from beyond the arc. He has NBA range already, can knock down jump shots anywhere on the court and can make shots of the dribble as well.
He's a very crafty ball-handler, who's extremely quick and can get in the paint with his moves and speed with the ball in his hands. He's great at creating his own shot, is nearly unstoppable in one-on-one isolation situations and has a great feel for the game.
He's also an extremely confident player who doesn't shy away from the big moments and has even knocked down some clutch shots in his short career.
Besides the fact that he throws up extremely questionable shots, he also tends to be very selfish with the ball. If his team is losing, he'll think he's the only one who can score and bring them back by forcing shots from 30 feet. His body language is also a major turn-off, as he hasn't quite shown the leadership trait, which could end up changing as he gets older.
Rivers also is a poor defender who at times doesn't look engaged on that side of the ball. Not to mention for somebody who is a knock-down shooter and a pure scorer, his 65 percent from the free throw line isn't too appealing.
He's also a bit thin for the next level at 6'4", 200 pounds. He'll need to bulk up a bit as well.
Player Comparison: Ben Gordon
Now, while I don't think Rivers will be drafted as high as Gordon was in the 2004 NBA draft (third overall), they do both have very similar traits. Both were offensive machines coming out of college, didn't exactly have great point guard skills and threw up questionable shots. Neither showed great leadership skills. Both were unimpressive defensively.
Gordon has had a decent NBA career, but it's safe to say the expectations are a bit higher for Rivers, considering his background.
Overall, I wished Rivers would have stayed another year in college to work on his game a bit, but what's done is done. Offensively, he can score with the best of them. He'd be able to help out some lottery team in that department. But the questions on the defensive side and the questionable demeanor he has on the court are concerning.
If he would have stayed another year in school, he likely would have been a top-five pick in the 2013 draft. Now, he'll be a mid-first-round pick in this year's draft, and provide a scoring burst off the bench until he bulks up and shows a bit more consistency.
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