2012 NBA Draft: Projecting Austin Rivers' Skills as a Pro Prospect

Josh BackmanContributor IIIJune 2, 2012

DURHAM, NC - MARCH 03:  Austin Rivers #0 of the Duke Blue Devils looks up after falling to the ground against the North Carolina Tar Heels during their game at Cameron Indoor Stadium on March 3, 2012 in Durham, North Carolina.  (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

Scouts are very skeptical of Austin Rivers, the barely-6'4" guard from Duke University. He has the potential to be a star in the NBA, but also has the possibility to be booed out of the league.

Rivers has an abundance of attributes that will allow him to succeed at the professional level, but there are many question marks that leave teams unsure if he is a fit for their organization.



Since being a 20-point per game scorer as a 15-year-old sophomore at Winter Park High School, Rivers has had the spotlight on him. He arrived to Durham, North Carolina last season as the third-best high school player in the country, according to ESPN100.

His ability to play under pressure at an elite level has been demonstrated when he nailed a game-winner against arch-rival North Carolina.

Rivers visually looks comfortable playing against difficult opponents. His style of play explains why he is able to perform well against elite teams. He is extremely aggressive and has a first step that enables him to beat defenders to the hoop where he is an excellent finisher.

He is simply a natural scorer, leading Duke in points per game with 15.5 per contest. He also will have a better fit in the NBA than he did at the college game. The professional level involves significantly more isolation and individual play, which will benefit Rivers as he makes the transition.

He also possess great athleticism which is vital in the NBA. His floater and pull-up jumper are his go-to moves, and are a high percentage of his 12 attempts per game.

In the end, the most beneficial attribute he contains is not even him, but his father. Being the son of Doc Rivers, the coach of the Boston Celtics, has given Austin the exposure to know what it takes to thrive at the next level.



Scouts criticize Rivers' extreme inconsistency for the major reason he is a potential bust.

Rivers had seven games last season with 10 points or fewer. This a huge issue for a player recognized for his scoring ability.

The fact that he shoots 65 percent from the foul line is also a major problem because he has the ability to get to the line often. He is undersized for a shooting guard and has mediocre decision-making, which prevents him from being switched to the point guard position.

He gets too happy with his dribbling. This leads to a regularity of turnovers. Rivers has the ability to be a great on-ball defender, but often lacks the energy on the defensive side.

His excellent scoring ability comes with a bit of selfishness on the offensive end. Rivers takes too many outside shots when he is noticeably a better slasher. Even though he shot 36.5 percent behind the arc, Rivers should not be attempting over four per game like he did last season.

For Rivers to successfully avoid the "bust" label, he must be consistent over 82 games a season.