Austin Rivers entered Duke as one of the more highly touted freshman in the country last season, due at least in part to the fact his father, Doc, is coach of the NBA’s Boston Celtics. But the younger Rivers largely lived up to the billing in his lone collegiate season, as he led the Blue Devils in scoring (15.5 points per game) and made 36.5 percent of his three-pointers. His season highlight was probably his buzzer-beater to beat rival North Carolina.
Rivers is widely projected as a first round pick in next week’s NBA Draft, and Draft Express.com has him projected to go 13th overall to the Phoenix Suns right now. The Minnesota Timberwolves hold the 18th overall pick and have a clear need at shooting guard, so Rivers should be on their radar even if it looks likely he’ll be off the board by the time they make their pick.
Let’s look at what Rivers brings to the table in terms of strengths and weaknesses.
- Plays with the IQ of a coach’s son, which he obviously is
- Has excellent shooting range
- Is an excellent ball handler, showcasing a variety of moves
- Plays confidently-with swagger and aggressiveness
- Has good athleticism
- Has excellent scoring instincts
- Is a bit of a “tweener”, without the complete skills and strengths of a two-guard or point guard
- Lacks elite strength and explosiveness around the basket and in traffic
- Is not always a willing passer
- Is an inconsistent defender, tends to gamble too much
- Will need to add strength to hold up against NBA shooting guards on both ends of the floor
- Exhibits poor body language in the face of adversity
Rivers may be one of the more polarizing prospects in this year’s draft class, with clear-cut strengths and weaknesses that will get the attention of teams for better or worse. He may go sometime late in the lottery, but it would not be too surprising to see him fall down the first round a bit and be in play for the Timberwolves at 18th overall. He would certainly fit their need for a capable shooting guard and perimeter scorer, but his shortcomings defensively would not be a great fit as they already have too many players that are not great on that end of the floor.
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