Duke Basketball: 4 Reasons Blue Devils Are Better off Without Austin Rivers
With freshman sensation Austin Rivers declaring for the 2012 NBA draft, the Duke Blue Devils now have a large void to fill.
Or do they?
Rivers led Duke in scoring—netting 15.5 points per game—but shot a mere .433 percent from the field and an even worse .365 percent from beyond the arc.
It was also evident throughout the season that Rivers was more of a scoring guard, not a facilitator of the offense, as evident by him averaging more turnovers per game than assists.
With Rivers gone, Duke can get back to playing team basketball and excelling in the NCAA tournament.
Here are four reasons Duke is better off without Rivers:
Better Passing and More Assists
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images
With Austin Rivers out of Durham, the Duke Blue Devils will show more of a team effort in 2012-2013.
Rivers entered his freshman season knowing that he was "the man" for Duke, and he sure played like it.
He was selfish at times and relinquished the ball more than he dished it, as he averaged 2.1 APG and 2.3 TPG.
As a point guard, Rivers never posted more than six assists in a game during his freshman season and played in just eight games where he had more assists than turnovers.
Duke ranked No. 204 in terms of team assists in 2011-2012—with 12.5 per game—and will definitely improve that mark next season.
Quinn Cook Will See More Time
Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images
Now that Rivers is no longer a Blue Devil, the opportunity is wide open for Quinn Cook to take hold of the reigns.
The freshman Cook saw some playing time behind Rivers this season, scoring more than four points and dishing out just under two assists in 11.7 minutes per game.
Of Cook, ScoutHoops.com writes,
One of the most important things that Cook, a Duke signee, brings to the table is leadership. A team guy that has the ability to create for his teammates, Cook should fit in at Duke and eventually take over the reigns at the point guard position. When needed he's a pretty talented scorer that has improved his mid-range game. While he hasn't always been a consistent long range shooter, it's certainly getting better.
Cook is exactly the personality that Duke needs, a team-first guy who will get his teammates involved and score the basketball.
Better Shot Attempts
Streeter Lecka/Getty Images
Rivers led the Blue Devils in attempted shots this season, only making about 43 percent of them.
Often times this season, Rivers would force a bad shot when he had teammates open, which led to his poor shooting percentages over the course of the season.
There were 13 games this season that saw Rivers shoot worse than .400 percent from the field—including the biggest game of his short college career—against Lehigh in the first round of the NCAA tournament.
Without Rivers, Duke will be able to utilize the Plumlee brothers in the post and let Seth Curry find his stroke.
Seth Curry Will Flourish
Streeter Lecka/Getty Images
Seth Curry's shooting percentages were down from last season in 2011-2012, most likely due to the play of Austin Rivers.
With Rivers out of the picture, Curry becomes the go-to guy for the Blue Devils, especially from the perimeter.
He can bury it from downtown and shoots extremely well from the free throw line, making him one of the best shooting guards in the NCAA.
Even from the shooting guard position, Curry provided Duke with more assists and less turnovers than Rivers did.
If he returns for his senior season—which there hasn't been any reason to think he won't—Curry will flourish in an increased role in 2012-2013.
Follow Pete Schauer on Twitter @Pete_Schauer