With the NBA Draft fast approaching on June 28th, we at Bright Side of the Sun want to cover all the bases regarding the possible players who the Phoenix Suns could draft with the #13th pick.
Make the jump for some fast facts and a breakdown of Rivers' strengths an weaknesses.
So who is Austin Rivers?
- Measurables: 6-foot-5, 203 lbs, 6-foot-7.25 wingspan
- Position: Shooting guard
- Age: 19 years old (one year of college)
- College: Duke University
- Accolades: ACC Rookie of the Year (unanimous selection), All-ACC First Team
- NBA Comparisons: Best case - O.J. Mayo, Jamal Crawford; Worst case - Jerryd Bayless
- Fun Fact: Son of former NBA player and current Boston Celtics head coach Doc Rivers
Per Game Statistics:
The Suns current roster is lacking a go-to scorer, which is why many see Rivers as a good fit. He's shown throughout his high school and college careers that he knows how to put the ball in the bucket.
Rivers has the tools to be a good isolation scorer. He has an explosive first step, supreme quickness and advanced ball-handling ability which allow him to get anywhere he wants on the court. He does a great job of changing speeds and using hesitation, and he is very good with cross-overs and spin moves.
He measured 6-foot-5 in shoes with a decent wingspan and has bulked up a bit since high school, so he has the size to play shooting guard in the NBA.
Rivers has supreme confidence in his jumpshot and is capable of getting hot in a hurry. He has deep range, extending well beyond the college arc, and should have no problem making the jump to the NBA.
Rivers is not afraid of stepping up on the biggest of stages and he made a few clutch plays in his one year of college ball, including drilling a game-winning 3-poiner against Duke's arch-rival North Carolina.
Despite his potential as a scorer, there are plenty of weaknesses in Rivers' game right now.
While he is able to get into the lane seemingly whenever he wants to, he's not all that great at finishing when he gets there. According to his Draft Express profile, he only converted 49% in his first 19 games in a Duke uniform. He did make major strides in that area and shot 63% at the rim over his final 15 games, but it's going to be much more difficult to finish in the paint against NBA bigs. He also only made 65.*% of his free throws, which is terrible for a guard and limits him as a scorer.
He's certainly capable of heating up from deep, but he's streaky and his form is far from textbook. He shot 36.5% from 3-point range, isn't all that great for someone who is considered to be a big-time shooter. He also doesn't have much of a mid-range or pull-up game.
Rivers spent plenty of time as the primary ball-handler at Duke, yet he only averaged 2.1 assists per game (compared to 2.3 turnovers). He doesn't exhibit great court vision, often getting tunnel-vision and forcing shots up in traffic rather than kicking it out to teammates.
Rivers wasn't a particularly good defender at Duke, and I don't see him improving all that much either. He didn't always focus on that end and often gambled instead of playing good, fundamental defense.
The Suns need a player who can score the ball. There is no denying that. But I don't think Austin Rivers is the right guy to fill that role. He doesn't offer much outside of putting the ball in the basket, and I question how efficiently he'll be able to do that in the NBA.
He also has some character questions. He often showed poor body language on the court and appears to have an ego. His interview at the combine did little to dispel that image. When asked what his biggest weakness was, he responded:
"My biggest weakness? Umm, man, umm. It's one of those things where, um, you know, I'll let other teams figure that one out. I don't really know."
He is still young. For all I know he could mature and lose the ego when he enters the league. From all accounts, there really aren't questions about his work ethic and he did improve throughout his freshman season. However, I don't think he's the right fit for Phoenix.
For some excellent clips showcasing Rivers' strengths and limitations, check out his profile on SwishScout.