UPDATE: Friday, March 8, at 1:12 p.m. ET by Tyler Conway
Rivers' hand injury may force his rookie season to end prematurely. According to Jimmy Smith of The Times-Picayune, the Hornets guard will undergo surgery next week and is unlikely to return this year:
Jimmy Smith @JimmySmith504
#Hornets guard Austin Rivers will have surgery on broken Right hand next week. Likely done for season.2013-3-8 17:58:22
If Rivers' season is over, he will finish with averages of 6.2 points, 2.1 assists and 1.8 rebounds per game.
---End of update---
UPDATE: Wednesday, March 6, at 11:37 p.m. ET by Tyler Conway
The prognosis is in on Rivers' hand injury, and it's not looking good. According to Yahoo! Sports' Adrian Wojnarowski, Rivers will miss four-to-six weeks with a broken bone in his hand:
Adrian Wojnarowski @WojVerticalNBA
New Orleans rookie Austin Rivers will miss 4-to-6 weeks with a broken hand, Hornets say.2013-3-7 04:34:01
With the Hornets desperately looking for signs of life in Rivers' development, this is yet another crushing blow in a season full of them for the former Duke star.
---End of update---
NOLA.com’s John Reid reported, “Hornets' Austin Rivers right hand injury will not return, according to team officials.”
Rivers’ night came to a disappointing end as he was in the midst of an excellent scoring night. The rookie came off the bench to hit five of his six attempts for 10 points, helping New Orleans to a comfortable lead over the Lakers.
Despite an excellent night prior to his injury, both Rivers and the Hornets are having a disappointing season. Entering the game against the Lakers, the team was 21-40 on the year and Rivers was averaging 6.1 points per game while shooting just 36.5 percent from the field.
He faced high expectations when New Orleans used its second lottery pick in the 2012 draft to take him 10th overall.
The Hornets were hoping to have a dynamic frontcourt-backcourt duo with Rivers and top overall pick Anthony Davis, but the young team still clearly has plenty of work to do before it can contend for a playoff spot.
Rivers still has plenty of questions to answer before proving he can be an effective NBA player. He has drawn criticism for thinking like a dominant scorer without having the size and athleticism to put up impressive point totals.
But when he has a hot hand like he did before his injury against Los Angeles, he has the ability to convert his doubters. It was unfortunate that his night was cut short, and the Hornets will hope to have Rivers back on the floor soon.