Less than 12 months ago, Austin Rivers graduated Winter Park High School as a back-to-back state champion and college basketball’s most sought-after prospect. His raw talent and natural scoring ability impressed scouts across the board and convinced many that he was a virtual lock for a lottery pick in this year’s upcoming NBA Draft.
And now, skeptics have him sliding out of the first round.
Somehow, Rivers’ stock has fallen considerably despite solid freshman statistics and a year of tutelage under the game’s most prolific coach. Questions about attitude and subpar shooting percentages have many experts labeling him a high-risk selection in a draft that is filled with below-average NBA talent and overwhelming uncertainty.
The criticism is expected for a No. 1 prospect and the son of an NBA coach; however, Rivers may have his high-profile status to thank for overly exaggerated analysis.
In a recent appearance on ESPN’s First Take, draft specialist Chad Ford went so far as to say that he wouldn’t be surprised if Rivers were out of the league in three years.
The kid has yet to play a single minute against NBA competition and you’re ready to send him to Europe. Why don’t we give him a chance?
After all, Rivers did show signs of brilliance during his only year at Duke University, including an unforgettable shot at someplace called Chapel Hill that left the Dean Dome and all that were viewing in awe.
Ultimately, chances are that Austin Rivers will be taken in the top 15 picks of Thursday’s draft. But the mere idea that some talent evaluators aren’t projecting him in the first round is a bit ridiculous.
I’m not saying he is bound for greatness, or that he is even going to be an all-star. But I will contend that Rivers is worth the risk of a high lottery selection given his scoring potential and the lack of remaining talent.