Austin Rivers, who was a high school all-american, has announced that he will be one-n-done at Duke. This is not a huge surprise, as most people assumed that about Rivers before he ever left Winter Park. But after the season he had at Duke, it’s obvious to me he isn’t ready to be a NBA player.
The numbers at Duke were fine. The moxy and confidence he showed at times, and in clutch situations tells you he can be a pro basketball player. The cross-over, the jump shot, and ability to the get the free-throw line all stood out as qualities that will help him succeed after he leaves Duke. But there are so many obvious areas he needs to get better at if he wants to have a long, productive NBA career.
Austin Rivers will be drafted, and could be drafted high, but here are the problems I see.
1. He doesn’t have a position. He is a shooting guard, but is only 6’4″ and slight of frame. Can he be Monta Ellis?
2. He doesn’t defend. At least he hasn’t learned how to do it well yet. Another year at Duke with Coach K would do him wonders in that regard.
3. He doesn’t have a good grasp on shot selection yet.
4. He gets to the basket very well, but doesn’t show explosiveness to finish around the rim, or rather, above the rim. I know he can dunk. I’ve seen the highlights. Those things didn’t happen very often in his one year in college.
5. He seemed to be a good teammate, but I don’t think quite got what it was to be part of a system. Too much of his production was one-on-one. He won’t be going one-on-one in NBA games very much early in his career.
I know you were saying this as I began writing…you are just a Duke fan who is pissed he’s leaving.
Well, yes and no. Obviously I am not happy about it. But I am offering you my honest opinion. In fact, I’ve been telling this to people all year. He isn’t Kyrie Irving, or even Jason Williams. He’s pretty damn good for a freshman, but he isn’t changing anybody’s world. Kids that leave early and aren’t ready to contribute right away in the NBA are usually big guys or bigger guys that are athletic freaks.
Austin Rivers is neither. He’s a good player, but not one that I think will play very much, if at all his rookie year. His dad has made all the money he could ever need, so he doesn’t have to turn pro. I am disappointed he won’t be developing his game and body more in college.