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Austin Rivers shines in Summer League opener for the Pelicans

Jul 12, 2013, 8:23 PM EDT

Knicks Pelicans Basketball AP

LAS VEGAS — Austin Rivers hasn’t played in an NBA basketball game since March 4, after suffering a broken hand injury that ended his season.

You wouldn’t have known it in his first game with the Pelicans at the Las Vegas Summer League opener on Friday, as Rivers finished with 24 points, seven rebounds, and six assists in helping his team to a win over the Summer version of the New York Knicks.

It was far from a great rookie campaign for Rivers, who was the 10th overall pick in last summer’s draft. But he was finally starting to put together some solid performances, just as the injury set him back. He picked up where he left off in this one, showing an ability to run the offense, find his teammates, and score from both inside and out.

Rivers was just excited to finally get back onto the court in a game situation.

“It feels good just to play a game,” he said. “I haven’t played in so long since I got hurt. It was kind of a blessing in disguise. I got to work on my left, got to watch a lot of film, and see my weaknesses and how I need to change speeds instead of going 100 miles per hour. And it kind of showed today.”

As good as Rivers looked in his first outing back, and even if he continues to play this well, he’ll be hard-pressed to see many minutes in what’s become a crowded backcourt in New Orleans. The team made a draft night trade to acquire All-Star point guard Jrue Holiday from the Sixers, and went out and signed Tyreke Evans to a four-year deal in free agency. And, Eric Gordon is still on the roster.

But none of that seems to bother Rivers, at least on the surface.

“It doesn’t intimidate me at all,” Rivers said of the new roster additions. “At the end of the day I’ve just got to go out there and work. If I’m there and there are a lot of guards there, then that means I’ve got to work even harder. I love the city of New Orleans, and I know we’re just trying to get better. There are still things that can happen with our team, so who knows? My whole focus is to keep working and show up to training camp ready to go.”

Rivers will continue to focus on developing his game and attempting to create a problem for his coaches when they’re looking to divide the minutes up this season; his Summer League performance was an indication that he could earn playing time at either of the guard positions.

“You saw today that I can do both,” Rivers said, when asked if he’s more comfortable playing the point or the two-guard position.  “I really can do both. I’m a scorer but I can play the point and get people open. With Jrue there, he’s going to be the dominant point, so [this season] it’ll be a lot of [shooting guard]. But I can get extra minutes playing backup point for him, and that’s what my goal is right now.”

“I’m not really worried about who’s there,” Rivers said. “I’ve just got to show up to training camp ready to go — I expect to work and I expect to play.”

  1. elwaysagenius - Jul 12, 2013 at 8:28 PM

    As is always pointed out on this site on summer league articles, Josh Selby won co-MVP of last years summer league

    • tomshoe - Jul 12, 2013 at 8:33 PM

      So did Damian Lillard. Don’t count him out just yet.

      • biasedhomer - Jul 12, 2013 at 9:28 PM

        Damian Lillard won ROY, while Austin Rivers had arguably the worst campaign of any rookie player in the history of the NBA.

      • sportsfan18 - Jul 13, 2013 at 3:40 AM

        biasedhomer

        You are correct about Austin Rivers being one of the worst NBA rookies ever.

        To date, Rivers is shooting 37.2% from the floor, with an even sadder 32.6% from deep. What’s more, he is only converting 54.6% of his shots from the free throw line, a number on par with a defensive-minded Center, not a Shooting Guard. To put this in perspective, there has never been a rookie in the history of the game to shoot worse while averaging over 20 minutes per game.

        For the season, Austin Rivers is averaging a PER of 5.9. Yes, single-digits. This, too, is an all-time worst for a rookie dating back to 1946. He is also posting an abysmal offensive rating of 89 with a porous defensive rating of 114. Combined, these are also the worst recorded statistics for a contributing rookie.’

        His year end PER was only 5.9.

      • nbascreed - Jul 13, 2013 at 11:44 AM

        Yeah, I agree with Elway. In the NBA most small guards (which is what rivers is) show promise in Year 1. Harden struggled but you saw the development. Rivers always struck me as a guy with false bravado that covered up for what he knew was a glaring lack of vertical and horizontal athleticism.

        I watched him before he got hurt and he couldn’t go by and since his shot is not a weapon he can’t use craftiness to gain a step (see Curry, Terrell Brandon, Mark Price, etc).

        Austin will continue to slide further down the bench and end up coaching with his father someday.

  2. dondada10 - Jul 12, 2013 at 8:46 PM

    I just hope ESPN/TNT let us see some of the smaller market teams, like the Pelicans, this season.

    • biasedhomer - Jul 12, 2013 at 9:30 PM

      Likely not. Only small market teams they will display are the ones that are in playoffs.

    • saint1997 - Jul 12, 2013 at 9:43 PM

      definitely. the Pelicans look really good this year and I think that 4 man rotation in the backcourt will be killer

      • nbascreed - Jul 13, 2013 at 11:41 AM

        Ha! A bunch of guards whose upside is greater than their productivity. Fail.

  3. ohioteamsusuallysuck - Jul 12, 2013 at 9:09 PM

    He didn’t do that great last year but he seems humble and he can still turn it around.

  4. 3 Finger Lenny - Jul 12, 2013 at 9:21 PM

    He stinks

  5. cakemixa - Jul 12, 2013 at 9:22 PM

    Can’t say he has a bad attitude

  6. money2long - Jul 12, 2013 at 9:30 PM

    can his style of play make it in the nba? we’ll see. i know one thing. it’s works on the streets. this is VERY entertaining for those that like to laugh as well as enjoy streetball. CHECK THIS OUT !!

    http://www.worldstarhiphop.com/videos/video.php?v=wshh40AutD06W3yL7m0N

    • 00maltliquor - Jul 13, 2013 at 2:43 AM

      My God….I want Spiderman on the Lakers, starting point….right now!! Pick. Him. Upppp.

      LOL

      Good post!

      • money2long - Jul 13, 2013 at 11:50 AM

        this was too funny ! i wish he swung away off the court with his webs after torching those guys. haha

  7. yousuxxors - Jul 12, 2013 at 10:02 PM

    I’m really liking this team right now

  8. 00maltliquor - Jul 12, 2013 at 11:16 PM

    As I knew he would. Don’t you dare write this kid off yet.

    • loubearkane - Jul 13, 2013 at 12:12 PM

      No but with lack of playing time with there additions you can imagine he might get frustrated with the situation.

  9. pauliewalnuts90 - Jul 13, 2013 at 12:13 AM

    “I expect to work and I expect to play.”

    With that attitude its hard not to root for this kid. Honestly, I felt he should have stayed at duke for his sophomore year just for more experience at a high level. That being said— He’ll ball out this year.

  10. goldenstateofmind7 - Jul 13, 2013 at 1:13 AM

    its summer league, what i want to see if festus ezeli is going to do something in summer league?

  11. loubearkane - Jul 13, 2013 at 10:44 AM

    Like Austin think he will be successful just not in New Orleans , he won’t get the minutes he needs, which will make him progress as a player slower, then after next year NO will have to make a long term decision on a player it hasn’t had a solid look at and end up declining to offer a qualifying offer , then lose him and a early draft pick is lost for nothing.
    Get him healthy , showcase him. Trade him…….

  12. 11thstreetmafia - Jul 13, 2013 at 1:40 PM

    The guy is a bum. He came into my store in Orlando and pulled the “do you know who I am?” card. He was trying to get a mega discount on some sneakers. I told him I would charge him the same price as everybody else and he got pissy. What a d-bag.

  13. hojo20 - Jul 14, 2013 at 9:08 PM

    Time for some D-League time for Rivers.

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