I was an Austin Rivers doubter to begin with, and his selection by the New Orleans Hornets only deepened my concerns. The fact that he is expected to get big-time minutes this year, especially at the point guard, spot baffles me.
Rivers is not a point guard. He proved that in college—he is a score-first guard who has decent passing ability but is programmed to pass last. He had more turnovers last season for Duke than he had assists and had an assist rate of just 12.9 percent, according to statsheet.com. That isn't even in the top 200 amongst NCAA players last season.
(For comparison, the highest was Tim Frazier at Penn State with a 45.2 assist percent. Kendall Marshall of North Carolina, the No. 13 selection by the Phoenix Suns, had an assist percentage of 44.62).
It's clear that Rivers isn't an NBA point guard, and a transition would take an extended time. He is a shooting guard is who, unfortunately for him, next to Eric Gordon. Can someone explain how Rivers and Gordon will coexist?
He's not really that efficient a scorer (he shot 43.3 percent from the field), he's turnover prone and didn't look like a dedicated defender at any time for Duke. He's over-hyped thanks to his streak scoring ability, and there isn't any denying that when he's hot, he can put up big numbers.
But before Rivers can do that, he needs to figure out how he fits into the Hornets' roster.