I've already touched on Austin Rivers' summer league struggles, so I won't continue to ramble over the same points. Sure, he couldn't throw a rock in the ocean, he couldn't get through screens, he got banged up inside, he turned the ball over too much, his shot selection wasn't great and he got outplayed by some other rookie prospects, but the fact of the matter is, the summer league's over and training camp isn't far away.
First and foremost, the NBA is physical. It's too physical for a nineteen year old kid whose built like a beanpole to step in and get where he needs to be on the court without expecting their to be some repercussions. Rivers discovered pretty quickly that handling the rigours of the professional game is going to require a little more than a shooting sleeve and some knee pads, it requires size, strength, speed and athleticism... even if you are going up against a bunch of D-League all-stars and professional benchwarmers.
|Austin Rivers on draft day.|
The NBA is a league in which you can't afford to be streaky, instead you need to be consistent. No player has ever made a name for themselves in the NBA by being a streaky jump shooter, it's the consistent shot-makers who get the big contracts, make the all-star games and win most valuable player awards.
While Rivers has got a bunch of highlight videos where he's seen draining five or six threes in a row, his jump shot lacks the appropriate mechanics he'll need to be a consistent shooter in the NBA. His stance is awkward, his release is jerky and sometimes it seems as if he's shooting the ball with two hands.
It seems like a stretch to ask an adequate shooter with above average scoring ability to completely restructure his shooting stroke, but it's a necessary adjustment if he ever wants to shoot more than 65% from the free throw line and 30% from deep.
|First look at Rivers in a New Orleans Hornets uniform.|
If Austin Rivers is going to play significant minutes for any team in the NBA, it's no secret he needs to get bigger... which he will. It's going to take time, but don't be surprised if by preseason this is a completely different version of Austin Rivers to what we saw in the summer league.
Many of Austin's summer league struggles simply came down to size and strength. He's got the build to be a great combo guard in this league -- standing at 6-5 -- but will need to bulk up if he's going to have any chance of fighting through screens, attacking the basket and converting against the tall trees down low.
Rivers carries himself the right way, speaks to the press with a maturation well beyond his 19 years and has the resume and background to suggest he'll do just fine in this league, but for now it's about steadily learning how to play in the NBA... which he's quickly learning is a whole different ball game to what he's been accustomed to coming out of high school and in to college.