5 Reasons Austin Rivers Needs More Time to Develop into an NBA Scorer
In high school, Rivers was named Mr. Florida Basketball, won the 2011 Naismith Prep Player of the Year Award and was an All-American.
He committed to Duke, where he stayed just one year before choosing to enter the NBA draft. During his one year at Duke, he averaged 15.5 points per game while playing roughly 33 minutes per contest.
Now just 10 games into his NBA career, Rivers is showing some signs of growing pains as he acclimates himself to the pro game.
This isn't out of the ordinary at all, and it's no reason to panic.
Rivers simply needs some time to develop, and as long as he doesn't let the pressure get to him, he will grow into a great scorer in the NBA.
Adjusting to Speed
The most major adjustment for any rookie is the speed of play.
Regardless of the league: NBA, NFL, NHL, MLB, MLS, whatever, there is going to be a learning curve because the game is simply played at a faster pace than what they have experienced before.
In the NBA, Rivers has to learn to think ahead and anticipate, because he can't just rely on his quickness and athleticism anymore.
He has the physical ability, so it's just a matter of adjusting to the speed around him.
He's not going to be one of the quickest guys on the floor anymore, so he'll have to learn to make things happen in a different way.
Rivers has always been known as a bit of a streaky shooter, so there's no surprise that it's something that he has to work on now in the NBA.
When it's on, his jump shot is deadly.
But he has trouble getting it off when he's pressured or pulling up off the dribble.
Rivers is going to have to work on that jump shot, because defenders in the NBA are taller, quicker and have longer arms. He's going to have even less time to get it off and will have to make sure his form is quick and easily replicated.
Apart from shooting, Rivers will also have to figure out other ways to score. He drove to the basket effectively in college, but it will be more difficult in the NBA.
Adding another element to his offensive arsenal would be a big help for Rivers.
Rivers was a pretty polarizing figure going into the NBA draft.
Some people saw him as a ball hog, while others saw him as a competitor.
Some criticized his athletic ability and jump shot, while others thought of him as a game-breaker who could score from anywhere on the court.
There's no doubt that all of this debate had a bit of an impact on Rivers. For such a young kid entering the NBA, it's not easy to block out the doubters.
And now with some early struggles in the NBA, Rivers just needs to continue working on his game and gaining confidence in himself.
Once he gets his swag back, Rivers will open up a bit and play more loose.
Learning the Offense
NBA offenses are complicated.
For a team like New Orleans that brought in Rivers and Anthony Davis to lead the team, things are extra complicated.
It had to redesign everything around its young talent, and it's a lot to ask of two rookies to shoulder so much of the load so quickly.
With head coach Monty Williams being a former first-round pick himself, he knows the pressures that come with the territory.
He'll be a big help in getting Rivers to learn how to succeed in New Orleans' offense.
He's Only 20
At the end of the day, Rivers is still just a 20-year-old kid who only had one year of college to prepare himself for the NBA.
From both a physical and mental standpoint, Rivers has a ton of room to grow. He'll add muscle and get bigger, stronger and faster over the next few years.
On top of that, he'll learn from older players as he matures himself and learns how to handle the NBA on and off the court.
Rivers is a young, talented player with a ton of potential.
He will continue to grow and mature both physically and mentally, and he could be one of the best scorers in the NBA some day.