I’d like to start off by saying that Austin Rivers of the New Orleans Hornets is a rookie.
Necessary? You wouldn’t think so, but some people seem to have forgotten this.
Less than 20 games into the season, plenty of pundits and fans alike are already calling for the 20-year-old’s head.
Are you kidding me?
I get that his 7.4 points and 3.4 assists in 28.8 minutes per game are unimpressive. I also understand that his 32.2 percent shooting from the field is unacceptable. And of course I understand his 7.61 PER is an embarrassing one.
But I also understand he’s a rookie. A rookie that has been asked to shoulder a majority of the playmaking duties along with Greivis Vasquez. A rookie who is being forced to play without the statistical support of Anthony Davis and Eric Gordon. A rookie who, as New Orleans head coach Monty Williams explains (via John Reid of The Times Picayune) is still learning the game:
“I think the guy that took a big step was Austin,’’ said Williams, who is hoping to see his team get their second consecutive victory Wednesday night when they face the Utah Jazz at the Arena. “His ability to score off the dribble and pass off the dribble and he knocked down a few shots.’’
I cannot stress enough how raw Rivers is. Not because he left Duke too soon—though he might of—but because like every other neophyte in the league, he is still acclimating himself to the rigors and pace of the NBA. His path to success is even more impeded than most because he’s 1) being asked to step outside his comfort zone on plenty of occasions and 2) he’s without the help of his team’s two best players.
If you want to focus on an aspect of his performance thus far that means something, how about his 42.2 percent clip from beyond the arc? Or how about his 14-point performance against the Los Angeles Clippers, the one that helped propel the Hornets to victory? Any of that is telling of the player he can become.
And that’s all that matters. The player he is now is not indicative of anything other than his inexperienced status. Not every athlete becomes an instant star. Hell, hardly any athlete becomes an instant star at this level.
So let’s give this kid a break and chalk his struggles up to circumstance, because that’s actually what’s happening here.
Rivers isn’t a failure, he’s far from it.
The only failure currently plaguing the rookie guard is the
Dan Favale is a firm believer in the three-pointer as well as the notion that defense doesn’t always win championships. His musings can be found at Bleacherreport.com in addition to TheHoopDoctors.com. Follow @danfavale on Twitter for his latest posts and all things NBA.