Austin Rivers: Player or pedigree?
Hornets rookie will continue to struggle until he learns to trust his teammates
Being the son of a former NBA player has its advantages, but it certainly has its drawbacks.
One of those is the constant comparisons. It could be physique, style of play or toughness. Regardless, until the son has proven himself, to scouts he's not Stephen Curry, he's "Dell Curry Jr."; he's not Austin Daye, he's "Darren Daye Jr."; he's not Al Horford, he's "Tito Horford Jr." And if you're already a junior like Mike Dunleavy Jr.? Well, you get another "Jr." tacked on for good measure.
It might sound belittling, but scouts use it as a rite of passage for young players. Thus, it's a sign of respect earned when you force NBA talent evaluators to remember your name instead of your father's. So when "Dell Curry Jr." dropped 44 points on NC State and 29 on Duke as a freshman at Davidson, scouts finally knew who Stephen Curry was.[+] EnlargeGary Dineen/NBAE via Getty ImagesRivers likes to score, but that's not all that makes a successful ball player.
For New Orleans Hornets rookie Austin Rivers, however, the case is a little different. Because of his high school stardom, everyone knows him and his pedigree. And while he might be the son of championship-winning coach/former standout NBA player Glenn "Doc" Rivers, Austin's game bears little resemblance to that of his father's, let alone any former point guard. Doc is one of the most respected coaching minds in the sport, so it is surprising his son would exhibit few of the team-oriented characteristics of Doc's coaching philosophy.
As such, I would never call Austin "Doc Rivers Jr.," because he has so little in common with Doc, who coaches the Boston Celtics. Doc was a point guard; Austin is a combo guard, which is NBA parlance for a guy who tries to play point but likes to shoot way too much. This is because Austin represents one of the toughest types of players to deal with: the egocentrist. This is not necessarily the pure negative you might assume. In fact, much of that label is based on how hard Rivers works. But it hurts his game.
Rivers shows minimal game management skills and does not make plays for his teammates. As a result, he is struggling, and there are doubts among evaluators as to whether he will be a productive player, let alone excel in the league. Let's break down why Rivers' pedigree might speak more than his current skills and performance.
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