2012 NBA Draft: Potential New Orleans Hornets No. 10 Draft Pick: Austin Rivers
With the Hornets all but guaranteed to select Kentucky power forward Anthony Davis with the No. 1 overall pick, the No. 10 selection becomes a bit of a different story. There are likely five players on the Hornets' radar.
The second of those guys is Kendall Marshall's college rival, Duke guard Austin Rivers.
Much could be said about Mr. Rivers, which you probably already know. Of course he is the son of Boston Celtics head coach and former NBA great Doc Rivers. He also was widely regarded as the No. 1 overall college prospect a year ago, ahead of even Anthony Davis.
He played one solid season at Duke but did not have the impact many expected him to have as such a titillating recruit. The 6'5" guard from Winter Park, Florida was one of 16 finalists for the Wooden Award, given to the nation's top player (which Anthony Davis won).
And he was unanimously named the ACC Rookie of the Year in 2012 in addition to his placing on the All-ACC first team.
In other words the resume is quite impressive.
In fact, you could say that in some ways he's the NBA's version of Andrew Luck, who has the father working in sports, the pedigree and everything else you'd conceive in a vacuum if you were trying to create a perfect pro prospect.
He does a lot well. Hence the reason he is likely to be a lottery selection in this draft.
Would Austin Rivers be a good fit with the Hornets?
Austin Rivers is one of the most natural scorers in this draft. He has all the skills to create his own shot at the rim and from deep. He is a good shooter who is not afraid to take big shots. His true shooting percentage was 53.8 percent in 2011-12, which was 23rd in the ACC. And he is very good at getting to the free throw line.
He averaged a steal per game in the ACC and showed some defensive awareness that few guys possess. That is likely because of his background as the son of a coach and the genes he possesses.
In addition, his offensive game is reminiscent to Kobe Bryant's, according to Chad Ford. When he puts his head down he can get to the rim with little disturbance, a quality he will likely develop the more he gets used to the speed of the game. His length will help him in that area, as well.
Also, he is a very clutch player. Most basketball fans will recall his game-winning three-point hit to rip the hearts out of North Carolina fans in the team's initial rivalry game at Chapel Hill. Sure he'll play hero ball, but more often than not he will make it.
For a guy who played point guard in college, Rivers had a terrible assist-to-turnover ratio (0.9) and just two assists per game. His lack of assists shows an unwillingness to pass along with poor floor vision.
He didn't play the game like a point guard, which is why many analysts project him as a shooting guard. For that reason, he may not fit well with this team, since they already have two point guards who are combo guards.
He also lacks elite quickness and speed and could easily be stymied by opposing shooting guards who possess additional length or quickness.
Finally, though he possesses defensive awareness, the effort often has not been present throughout the early stages of his career. That effort must improve if he is going to become a complete NBA player.
Austin Rivers would be the perfect player for the Hornets, if the team is unable to re-sign franchise guard Eric Gordon. A healthy Gordon would essentially eliminate any need for Rivers, unless the team really believes he is their next point guard, which—based on the scouting report above—seems unlikely.
Rivers could take Gordon's spot as the elite scorer who takes 20-plus shots per game and takes the last-second looks. With Gordon, the two would be fighting for the right to try to win games for New Orleans.
That is why Rivers would be a great fit for the Hornets, but only if there is no Eric Gordon around.
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