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Detroit Pistons #DraftDreams: Austin Rivers

Discuss Draft Dreams on Twitter using the #DraftDreams hashtag


  • Measurables: 6-foot-4, 200 pounds, freshman guard from Duke
  • Key Stats: 15.4 points, 3.4 rebounds, 2.1 assists, 1.0 steals per game, 43 percent shooting, 37 percent 3-point shooting
  • Projected: Top 15
  • Hickory High Similarity Score

Why I’m intrigued by this guy

Rivers, the son of Boston Celtics coach Doc Rivers, had an incredible amount of hype coming out of high school. In fact, many scouts projected that he could be the No. 1 pick in this year’s draft before he’d even played a college game. Things obviously didn’t materialize that way. Rivers didn’t have a bad season by any stretch, but he also wasn’t the game-changing force his hype suggested he would be.

Still, I’m not sure there is a player who will be available towards the bottom of the lottery with more upside.

Pros for the Pistons

Like other wing players I’ve profiled, Rivers wouldn’t be in play for the Pistons unless there is a run on big men early and a shooting guard is clearly a far superior player than whatever frontcourt players are left. I think it’s an unlikely scenario, but it could happen nonetheless. And in this case, I would be fairly excited if the Pistons end up with Rivers.

If they end up picking ninth, chances are they will select from a crop of players who have the potential to be solid, if unspectacular, starters and rotation players in the league. That’s not bad. Rivers, on the other hand, should at least be a rotation player, but he’s still a phenomenal talent and one slightly underwhelming college season doesn’t change that. If the Pistons took Rivers and he flopped, it’s a failed pick. But there’s also the slight possibility you take him in the late lottery and he develops into the star player just about anyone who watched him closely in high school thought he would become. That’s a pretty enticing gamble, even if it’s probably not the most practical move the Pistons could make.

As far as on the court, Rivers is a good perimeter shooter, he was one of the quickest shooting guards in the country off the dribble and, for a freshman, he’s already good at drawing contact and getting to the free throw line.

Cons for the Pistons

The con, obviously, is that Rivers doesn’t address the frontcourt deficiencies. I would counter that by saying that, if the Pistons do believe he’s best available when they draft, two of their three most valuable trade assets are in the backcourt — Brandon Knight and Rodney Stuckey. If you believe Rivers is better than one or both of those guys from the team’s perspective, you take him and you move either Knight or Stuckey, since both should be able to bring a reasonable return at the moment.

But that’s really the only way taking Rivers would make sense, if it were the first of two moves, the second being a trade that sends out one of their guards for a capable forward or center.

Oh, and as Chad Ford notes, Rivers has molded both his game and demeanor after Kobe Bryant. That could be a positive or negative depending on your stance on Kobe. I’ll just leave it at that.

What others are saying

Chad Ford:

For Rivers to have a really successful NBA career, he’s going to have to drop the Kobe act and become a better shooter and really work on that floater.

If he does that he’ll be really effective. But I’m not sure he knows what he is and that has been, time and time again, a problem for players as they make the leap to the next level.


A crafty ball-handler with no shortage of shifty hesitation moves or blistering cross-overs, Rivers showed the ability to create separation from his defender in one-on-one situations and turn the corner to get into the paint on the pick and roll, even splitting the defense in impressive fashion on occasion. Extremely confident and aggressive, River’s decision-making once he got into the paint and drew additional defenders quickly became a point of interest for scouts, as the young guard struggled with aspects of his dribble-drive game throughout the season.


Rivers is a talented scoring guard will be able to put points on the board at any level … His jumper is strong, his ability to operate off the dribble is very good, he has the bloodlines, and he can’t be accused of not being aggressive … He needs to get more mature, continue to get stronger, be less selfish, and work on his D though … He’s still a likely eventual lotto pick, his offensive skills are just too good to be ignored.

Charlotte News Observer:

Duke freshman Austin Rivers might not be a true point guard and is small for an NBA shooting guard, but he sure is hard to guard. That’s why I think he’d actually be a better fit in the NBA than in the college game.

Rivers has this herky-jerky dribble-penetration game that consistently gets him to the rim. With the NBA strictly enforcing the no-hand check rule, it will be easier for him to excel at this than under college rules.

What is the best thing Austin Rivers does for his team?

Chad Lykins (follow him on Twitter) covers Duke basketball for Duke Hoop Blog:

When you think of a guy like Austin Rivers, the first few things that enter your mind is: fearless, self-confident, and the ability to score the basketball. Rivers has had an NBA-ready game since his junior year of high school. As a freshman at Duke, the Duke offense ran through Rivers, as he led the team in scoring with 15.5 points per game. He is lethal from anywhere on the floor and can catch instant fire quickly. Rivers is exceptional at attacking the basket, as he found himself at the free throw line a team-high 184 times. He is at his best in isolations. He possesses a deadly first step and crossover dribble that would leave some of the top NBA defenders shaken. Through his one and only year Duke, he has learned to be more in control of his play.  He also excels in an up-tempo environment. If selected by Detroit, his game would thrive with the Pistons style of play (Detroit ranked among the top half of teams in the NBA in fastbreak points per game). He is instant offense wherever he may land in the league and within a few years will be considered with among the top scoring guards in the NBA.



  • May 4, 201211:32 am
    by gmehl


    Just imagine if we draft Rivers and he decides to go play in Europe like that other Dukie Singler (jokes). I wonder if he is hoping he last till the Celtics pick so he can play for his old man. I personally want the pistons to big with all there draft picks. I am leaning towards Meyers Leonard (1st round) and maybe Fab Melo (2nd round) if he is still there. Then sign Kaman to the veterans minimum and amnesty CV.

    • May 4, 201211:42 am
      by Patrick Hayes


      I’m sure the Celtics hope he lasts until they pick. I’d be shocked if Rivers makes it out of the lottery though.

      And no way Kaman signs for the vet’s minimum. He’ll get full mid level or maybe even more. He won’t deserve it, but that’s the going rate for big men with half a pulse. Sincerely, Brendan Haywood.

      • May 4, 201212:53 pm
        by BIGMARV


        ill pass on kaman he was a steal a few years ago but now no thank you hes getting older and injuries are piling on.

      • May 4, 201210:03 pm
        by gmehl


        @patrick Yes full level is what i mean. My bad on that.

  • May 4, 201211:35 am
    by MrBlockedShot


    26 days for the lottery day and counting…

  • May 4, 201212:36 pm
    by frankie d


    “But that’s really the only way taking Rivers would make sense, if it were the first of two moves, the second being a trade that sends out one of their guards for a capable forward or center.”

    and joe d last made a trade… when?
    joe d is paralyzed with fear.   he’s made so many bad moves over the last few years he appears to want to simply let things play out, make the easy, predictable moves – drafting talent that falls to him in the draft, resigning his own players, bringing in familiar scrubs – so that no one can criticize his moves.
    taking a guy like rivers might be a great move.  but predicating it on joe d making a trade in order to deal with a sudden surplus of talent at a spot is unrealistic, considering his recent conduct.  his recent tendency has been to simply acquire that excess talent and then let his excess talent rot on the bench.   unfortunately, he’s  shown nothing to indicate he’s going to change his recent habits.
    in fact, at his season-ending press conference, he made a revealing off-hand comment.  he was talking about drafting in a certain position, and he essentially stated that you just have to wait in your spot and see what falls to you at your draft spot.
    what about trading down if you know you want a certain player and you think another team is looking at him also?
    that is what happened, imho, last year with biyombo.  charlotte swept down, made a trade and picked him just before detroit was probably going to grab him.  so joe d was left sitting there with no choice other than to draft another combo guard, as the best player available.
    the idea of aggressively making moves apparently does not occur to joe.  he just said it, and his record confirms it.  as best as i can recall,  his only trade involving first rounders was the dj white/walter sharpe fiasco, where joe d traded out of the first round.
    joe has lost it, and expecting him to suddenly start making astute moves in the draft, or as a result of drafting, is sadly not consistent with his recent conduct.

    • May 7, 20122:07 pm
      by rick


      In the immortal words of Martin from the “Martin Show”, Cole you stupid!

  • May 4, 20121:04 pm
    by Daye and Knight


    I wouldn’t be opposed to drafting Rivers if we had a plan with getting a big through trade or free agency. If we have to trade one of our guards for this to work I would trade Stuckey only because of youth in the back court and visioning a Knight/Rivers back court with Monroe down low. I’m a big Stuckey fan…a Slappie even…but I can’t ignore the kind of potential of having a big three consisting Rivers, Knight and Monroe when all three are not even 22 years old yet. Add a caliber free agent in Beasly and our team would be very fun to watch. That being said, we would certainly need a front court mate for Monroe in order to be a serious competitor down the road. I’m not sold on Macklin yet but I think he has some upside. In free agency, because I have us using the mid on Beasly it would be difficult to find a Center we could bring in that would take less money: Hill, Randolph, Thompson maybe? Rivers would put some butts on the stands for sure, but I still think our first priority should be addressing our front court problem. If we had a plan to address that or if there’s a second round talent that could pan out as a nice player to have next to Monroe then I would be all for taking Rivers.

  • May 4, 20123:05 pm
    by Rodman4Life


    Not a single mention of his defensive ability.  C’mon guys, this is Detroit we’re talking about.  Stop drooling over the offense or next thing you know we’ll be wearing teal again!

  • May 4, 201210:10 pm
    by Josh


    Assuming we do draft Rivers and we trade Stuckey, the problem I see now is that we will have little to no ball movement in a half-court style offense. If Frank decides to up the pace next season and go for a run and gun type of play, then yes, a backcourt pairing of Knight and Rivers could do wonders running the open floor. 

    But if we stick to the usual slow-paced half court offense, things won’t work out. Knight and Rivers are both scoring guards. Rivers averaged just 2 assists last season and turned it over just as much. Knight averaged just below 4 assists coughed it up almost thrice a game. Their both best utilized when you ask them to score, not to facilitate an offense. Stuckey, no matter how much you view him as a PG, was at least competent in doing that. Not if we’re talking Rivers + Marshall or Knight + Marshall, that’s a different story.

  • May 5, 201210:56 am
    by sop


    There’s no way the Piston come away with Rivers and its probably a good thing.
    Rivers has a nice cross-over but the question is will his ability to get to the basket be cancelled out by his lack of NBA level explosiveness/athleticism. He’s a small, score ONLY 2-guard who’s still developing his deep range shot. I do like his aggressive attitude, but he’s overrated because he got a lot of hype early on due to his who his dad is.

  • Apr 9, 20136:22 pm
    by websites


    Every person
    has right to defence. Maybe we should ban fire
    extinguisher too. Maybe only firefighters should be allowed to fight against

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