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Austin Rivers is an interesting player to study. Initially, after the New Orleans Hornets drafted him, he seemed like someone who would share minutes with Eric Gordon, forcing teams to confront a dynamic scoring guard all 48 minutes. Then he might grow into a larger role.
He might also be featured in a three-guard lineup with Gordon and Greivis Vasquez, with him and Gordon posing that tantalizing scoring threat at the same time.
Now, the Hornets are trying to see if they can feature him and Gordon together as the two starting guards. That would mean starting Rivers as the point guard. According to The Times-Picayune, the Hornets are trying to see if Rivers can play point guard.
“Our future’s really bright, and hopefully Austin’s that guy that can take that point guard position and run with it,” said Hornets assistant and summer league coach James Borrego.
Borrego said that the team is trying to get Rivers adjusted to being a point guard.
“His instinct is to score,” Borrego said. “But we’re trying to slow him down, learn our offense, learn our pace, learn our rhythm, and I think those are things he’s going to get.”
No one can be too sure of that, though. Rivers will likely lean more towards his scoring tendency. Also, the effort to make him more of a facilitator for others than a creator of his own shots could hinder his growth.
That effort seems to have hurt him. He shot 21 percent from the field and had seven assists in two summer league games before getting injured.
Fortunately, Hornets coach Monty Williams clarified Borrego’s statements about the work being done with Rivers at the point guard position.
Williams told The Times-Picayune, “Obviously, during the season, we’re going to have him play both positions.”
The Hornets have an interesting set of talent that doesn’t fit the classic NBA system but could work out however Williams puts it together. Whatever Rivers’ role is, he’ll make sure that his scoring presence is felt.
His ability to create for himself is unquestionable. Rivers will break guys down in isolation and drive past opponents for points inside.
He might neglect to pass while satisfying his desire to score, but he will ensure that the Hornets aren’t among the lowest-scoring teams like they were in 2011-12. He’ll join Ryan Anderson and Eric Gordon as the three Hornets scoring at least 14 points per game to turn that offense around.