Since the North Carolina Tar Heels are facing the Duke Blue Devils in Durham, North Carolina, it is only fitting to discuss the progress of a former “dukie” in Austin Rivers. Rivers was phenomenal in his first game against North Carolina last season. He hit the game-winning three-pointer over current Cleveland Cavalier center, Tyler Zeller. Led by Rivers’ 29 points and 5 rebounds, Duke won the game 85-84.
After this performance, Rivers was viewed as a sharp-shooting assassin with “cold water in his veins.” However, this has not carried over to this first year as an NBA player.
The New Orleans Hornets drafted Rivers as the No. 10 overall pick.
Don’t get me wrong. Rivers is an extraordinary talent. However, in retrospect, New Orleans wasted a pick on Rivers in my opinion.
Some people may think that it was okay to take a chance with the No. 10 pick since New Orleans also had the No. 1 overall pick, which most people assumed was a “sure thing” in Anthony Davis. Whenever you are building your franchise, it is wise to make well-educated draft picks. Rivers has background of having a father who is also an NBA coach helped him a great deal. If Boston Celtics‘ head coach, Doc Rivers, was not his father, then he would not have been drafted as high as he was.
Think about it. Rivers is averaging six points, 2.2 rebounds and 1.8 assists as the second shooting guard on New Orleans’ depth chart. Evan Fournier is averaging 3.5 point, 0.7 rebounds and 0.5 assists as the third shooting guard on the depth chart for the Denver Nuggets. Doron Lamb is performing similarly, averaging 3.4 points, 0.9 assists and 0.7 rebounds.
The individual statistics are one thing, but the player efficiency rating (PER) gives you a better idea of how good a player really is. The PER measures a player’s per-minute performance. Rivers’ PER is 5.25. Fournier’s PER is 7.52. Lamb’s PER is 3.21. Based on these findings, Fournier would have been a better draft pick than Rivers.
Rivers would have fared better by returning to Duke for his sophomore season, so that he could get stronger and bigger. It would have behooved New Orleans to possibly take a shot at Fournier or someone like St. John’s Maurice “Mo” Harkless, who is the starting small forward for the Orlando Magic who is averaging 4.8 points, 0.6 assists and 3.8 rebounds per game with a PER of 11.92.