New Orleans Pelicans: Austin Rivers Must Prove He’s Not a Bust

By Ryan Heckman


Spruce Derden-USA TODAY Sports

New Orleans Pelicans fans expected much more from first year pro Austin Rivers last season. In hopes to solidify their depth at the shooting guard spot, New Orleans grabbed Rivers out of Duke with the tenth overall pick in the draft.

Things looked promising with Rivers and number one overall pick Anthony Davis joining the mediocre roster. That promise they saw in Rivers didn’t pan out so well.

Last year, Rivers’ PER was a disgusting 5.95 and here’s why: In 23 minutes per game he could only muster 6..2 points, 2.1 assists and 1.8 rebounds. His shooting percentage was extremely low at just 37 percent and he gave away the ball at least once every game.

Sure, most lottery picks have high expectations and sometimes take a while to develop. But, a PER of 5.95? That is inexcusable from just about every player at the professional level considering average is typically around 15.

Rivers was far from efficient in his rookie year and should have been able to provide much more in 23 minutes per game. Heading into next season with a fresh slate, Rivers has to prove his worth of being the tenth overall pick in last year’s draft.

With the sixth pick in the 2013 NBA Draft, the Pelicans could go a number of different ways. One of the best fits could be UNLV forward Anthony Bennett which I see as a very likely scenario. However, what if they decide to go guard yet again? What does that mean for Rivers?

Like I said, he better get his act together quickly and prove that last season was merely a learning experience and nothing but somewhat of a fluke. The Pelicans do not want to come to the conclusion they wasted a lottery pick, but last year that’s exactly the impression I obtained. This season better show improvement all around, or Rivers won’t last long in the rotation with New Orleans.

Ryan Heckman is a Senior NBA writer for also contributing to the NFL. Follow him on Twitter @ryanmheckman  or add him to your network on Google.

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