Austin Rivers was one of the most anticipated high school basketball players of all time. After a somewhat disappointing season at Duke, many have questioned whether or not Rivers can live up to the hype in the NBA.
The truth is that Rivers can and will live up to the hype.
One of the biggest things Rivers has going for him in the NBA is his pedigree. For his entire life, Rivers has been around basketball. He knows the game at all levels and won’t have to adjust as radically to life as a professional as most rookies would.
His father, Doc Rivers, had a long and successful professional career with the Atlanta Hawks and three other teams. Doc has more NBA experience than almost anyone, having been a coach for as long as he was a player.
To think that the younger Rivers hasn’t learned at all from his father about what the NBA is all about would be ludicrous. We all learn from our parents about their careers, whether we follow in their footsteps or not.
Rivers has also done well in his own career so far. He was ranked as the No. 1 high school player in the nation by Rivals.com. In his junior and senior seasons, he led his high school to its first and second state championships.
He also earned his way to getting a scholarship at one of the most prestigious academic and basketball universities in the United States at Duke. The highlight of his time there will always be his buzzer-beating three to beat North Carolina. The Blue Devils may not have had the type of season they were hoping for, but you certainly can’t blame that on Rivers.
His game is clearly up there in terms of the prospects in this draft. Rivers is a very skilled ball-handler and has a particularly sick crossover. He also has a nice floater and can shoot the ball from very deep. He’s a scorer, pure and simple, and is a very good one. He also has a confidence about him that is rare to find in such a young player.
His attitude and mentality are already impressing teams. According to the Charlotte Observer, the Toronto Raptors are very interested in Rivers and are impressed by “his assertive, don’t-back-down attitude.”
That might be the best thing about Rivers. He’s confident that he can be a great player, even if the rest of us may not be. He has a killer instinct on the court that is reminiscent of a young Kobe Bryant.
Rivers is a driven young man, and the more people doubt it, the more driven he’ll be. That’s why he’ll live up to the hype and pressure that we have placed on him, because he places even more on himself.
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