Hornets Trying To Make Austin Rivers A Point Guard

Rivers To Run The Point In New Orleans?

7/16/12 in NBA   |   Matthew_Shovlin   |   735 respect

Feb, 8, 2012; Chapel Hill, NC, USA; Duke Blue Devils guard Austin Rivers (0) passes the ball in the first half at the Dean E. Smith Center. Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-US PRESSWIRENew Orleans Hornets' assistant coach James Borrego recently stated that the team will look to run rookie Austin Rivers at the point guard position. "For most of the summer we're going to try and play him as the point guard and put the ball in his hands and see how he can run a team," Borrego said.

This doesn't come as a complete surprise, as the Hornets took Rivers 10th overall in June's NBA Draft and recently matched incumbent shooting guard Eric Gordon's $58 million offer sheet to bring him back for four more years.

What is surprising about the attempt to play Rivers at the point, however, is that he has never shown any signs that he could be an effective facilitator in the NBA.

Rivers is a shoot-first, -second, -third, and -fourth kind of player. He doesn't care if he's missed his last ten shots, he thinks the next one is going in. To an extent, that could be a good thing, but not for a point guard.

Rivers averaged only 2.1 assists in college along to 2.3 turnovers per game. I'm sure players with those numbers don't have a good success rate of becoming point guards in the NBA.

This seems to be yet another case of a player who's a shooting guard on the inside, but a point guard on the outside. By that I mean Rivers definitely has the game and playing style of a shooting guard, but is more the size of a point guard at 6'4'' 200 lbs. NBA teams often seem to think that these undersized shooting guards will just seamlessly make the transition to point guard, but it rarely works.

Plenty of other players who fit this description have failed to make the transition recently: Kemba Walker (4.5 assists in college), Rodney Stuckey (5.5 assists), Nate Robinson (4.3 assists), Stephen Curry (5.6 assists), Tyreke Evans (3.9 assists), and Ben Gordon (4.5 assists). Not only have all of these players failed to become successful starting point guards, but the fact that they all averaged significantly more assists than Rivers in college suggests that Rivers is facing very strong odds that he won't be able to become a point guard.

On a side note, I'm not saying that any of the aforementioned players are bad basketball players, it's just that they are not legitimate starting point guards, which is what the Hornets want Rivers to be.

A less important aspect of Rivers' game is his free throw shooting. After shooting 65.8% from the line in college, do the Hornets really want him bringing up the ball in crunch time when the team is up by a point or two? I wouldn't.

After drafting Rivers 10th overall, the Hornets definitely need to get him some playing time. However, the presence of Eric Gordon is exactly why I was against the Hornets selecting Rivers. Neither guard can run the point, but both deserve to be on the court. However, the Hornets can't run a successful offense with Rivers playing point guard.
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