Wizards boost backcourt with Rivers trade
On Tuesday night, the Wizards acquired guard Austin Rivers from the Clippers in exchange for center Marcin Gortat.
Rivers, 25, just finished his sixth NBA season after spending time with the Hornets/Pelicans and Clippers. The son of Clippers head coach Doc Rivers was a five-star player out of Winter Park, FL and the No. 1 player in the Class of 2011. The younger Rivers would go on to play at Duke for one season before being selected No. 10 by New Orleans.
The 6’4” guard averaged career-highs in 15.1 points, 4.0 assists, 2.4 rebounds, and 1.2 steals per game during the 2017-18 season with the Clippers. Rivers improved his 3-point shot during his three seasons in Los Angeles, making a career-high 37.8% from beyond the arc last season. He took 5.9 3-pointers per game last season, which will bode well as the Wizards want to attempt more triples in the 2018-19 season.
"Acquiring Austin gives us another versatile, experienced player who provides scoring and playmaking,” said Wizards President Ernie Grunfeld. “He is coming off a career year and his ability to create offense for himself and others will help our second unit and allow us to play a variety of lineups throughout the season.”
A combo guard, Rivers has decent size and gives the Wizards another ball handler. He can play off the ball, knock down 3-pointers, and finish at the rim. Rivers can create his own shot and has proven himself as one of the better isolation players in the NBA. Per Synergy, among the 47 NBA players that used over 100 isolation possessions last season, Rivers ranked 5th in scoring efficiency making pull-up jumpers at a very high rate. He has shown an ability to make tough shots with opponents in his face; he made 51.5% of his shots with a defender within four feet or less last season.
Starting 59 of 61 games last season, Rivers played 33.7 minutes per game and will give the Wizards an experienced guard to play behind and with John Wall and Bradley Beal. He provides more depth for a Wizards team that is built on versatility. Expect the Wizards to play him alongside Wall and Beal, as well as the other guard when one of the team's All-Stars needs to rest. The Wizards plan to play small once again next season, which could mean seeing Markieff Morris at the center position at times.
The Wizards hope Rivers can build off of his 2017-18 campaign and give the team a boost in the backcourt next season. The NBA is such a small-ball league now that it never hurts to have as many ball-handlers, shooters, and defensive wings as possible.
With the trade of Gortat, the Wizards will likely look to add depth at center during the rest of the offseason. Free agency begins in July, and trades are always a possibility.