2012 Draft Profile: Austin Rivers


Editor’s Note: Throughout the month of June, Timberwolves.com will profile a series of prospects that could be available at Minnesota’s No. 18 pick during the 2012 NBA Draft on June 28. Part 1 details 19-year-old sharpshooting guard Austin Rivers, who just finished up his freshman year at Duke.

PROSPECT: Austin Rivers
POSITION: Shooting guard
SCHOOL: Duke
CLASS: Freshman

HEIGHT: 6'4"
WEIGHT: 200 lbs
PROJECTION: picks 10-20

THE LAST TWO YEARS

Rivers, son of former NBA player and current Boston Celtics head coach Doc Rivers, has grown up around the game. He came onto the basketball scene during high school with a collection of YouTube highlight tapes that showed great burst, slashing ability and a silky-smooth jump shot. By the end of his high school career, Rivals.com had proclaimed Rivers as the best player in his high school class.

You can imagine what sort of hype Rivers arrived with once he enrolled at Duke. He ended up finishing his freshman campaign as one of the best young scorers in the country (15.5 PPG), and enjoyed an incredible moment as he hit the game-winning shot against storied rival North Carolina on Feb. 8 at the Tar Heels' home court. 

STRENGTHS

There is no question that Rivers is an explosive scorer. His crossover and ball-handling abilities coupled with a great jump shot make him dangerous in isolation and pick-and-roll scenarios. Standing 6'4" with a good frame (including a 6'7" wingspan), he projects squarely at shooting guard. Although he lacks top-end athleticism, Rivers is very agile and quick, and can change speeds while attacking the rim. He certainly has a killer instinct when it comes to scoring (especially off the dribble) and will never be accused of being apathetic or shy while on the court.

QUESTION MARKS

While Rivers showed great promise at times while at Duke, he also exposed some weaknesses that many scouts believe could have been smoothed out with another year in college. Some are questioning if he is trying too hard to be the next Kobe-type of scorer and whether or not that sort of volume shot selection will aggravate a coaching staff. Will he be able to help move the ball around the floor, or will he end up being a "black hole" in the offense? While he certainly has shown that he has a fantastic jump shot, his shooting percentages at Duke (43% from the field, 36% from 3) are nothing special. He has been known to try and shoot himself out of slumps which can be disruptive for an offense. He has also shown poor body language at times and a "prima-donna" attitude, possibly from growing up with so much exposure and hype.

WHAT HE CAN BRING TO THE WOLVES

Many Wolves fans would like to bring on another threat from the 3-point line, as Michael Beasley's future is uncertain, and Luke Ridnour and JJ Barea were streaky. Rivers would probably immediately see at least some minutes in the guard rotation and could end up being the perfect type of player to receive passes from Rubio. The big question is whether coach Rick Adelman and staff are willing to invest in such a young player (Rivers is only 19) with some possible maturity issues.


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