- HOOPSWORLD | Basketball News & NBA Rumors - http://www.hoopsworld.com -
NBA AM: Rivers Wants To Be Sixth Man
Posted By Steve Kyler On August 8, 2013 @ 9:30 am In NBA | No Comments
Magic guard Arron Afflalo talks about his off-season, getting healthy and dealing with trade rumors.Watch More Video Here
Rivers Wants Sixth Man: New Orleans Pelicans guard Austin Rivers is ready for the clean slate of a new NBA season. For the first time in a while he is healthy. For the first time in his NBA career he is confident again and as NBA training camp gets ever so closer, Rivers is ready to change the channel on his rookie season.
To say Rivers had a rough rookie season is a massive understatement. In 61 games played, Rivers’ scored just 6.2 points a game on 37.2 percent shooting from the field and recorded arguably the worst PER rating for a top ten draft pick in the history of the stat, a dreadful 5.95.
To put that number in perspective, Thomas Robinson who had an awful rookie season logged a 10.9 PER. Adam Morrison, who flamed out of the NBA, badly logged at 7.9 PER his rookie season.
To say Rivers had a bad year really doesn’t put the season in proper context, especially considering he logged 23 minutes per game.
To be fair to Rivers, he clearly wasn’t ready for what he endured last season. He opted for the NBA after one lackluster season at Duke, knowing full well that he wasn’t going to improve at Duke and that his best chance at a future in the NBA was to develop in the NBA. Rivers was behind the curve all year in New Orleans. He knew it and the team knew it, but that’s what last season was about on several fronts.
Rivers was never really healthy, but tried to play through things. Rivers was never really physically ready for the 82-game grind that is the NBA season and it showed.
All summer Rivers has been working to not only improve his game and his body, but to improve his confidence as a player.
River spent time with Cleveland Cavaliers guard Kyrie Irving. He’s been running pickup games against elite level players and handling himself well.
Last weekend at adidas Nations in Long Beach, California Rivers showed that he still has that AAU swagger that got him noticed out of high school. He talked a lot about how much he learned from last year and how different he feels as a player.
Rivers understands all too well how much things have changed with his team. The Pelicans added a lot of talent at Rivers’ position, trading for All-Star guard Jrue Holiday and signing guard/forward Tyreke Evans in free agency.
The writing is on the wall that Rivers won’t be starting in New Orleans next season and that’s something he is completely fine with. In fact Rivers says he asked Pelicans’ coach Monty Williams if he can come off the bench as an anchor for the second unit.
Rivers knows that he has to improve this season and is putting in the work to be ready for his second season. Rivers also thinks he can log the kinds of numbers to be a Sixth Man of the Year candidate.
In Rivers’ mind he thinks he can compete for both Sixth Man and Most Improved Player and given where last season ended, he has nowhere to go but up.
The Pelicans are a radically different team and Rivers has been working hard to be a radically different player. In Summer League Rivers showed why teams viewed him as a top ten talent, in his second year in New Orleans he’s going to have to show that same swagger and aggressiveness.
If the offseason is any indication, he might be on his way.
Pelicans guard Austin Rivers talks about his off-season, his expectations for next season and how much he thinks he can improve.
Teague Ready For Bigger Role: The tough part about restricted free agency in the NBA is that a player often has to get another team to fall in love and set the price, which means as much as a player might want to stay where he is, he often has to mentally accept that he might play for another team.
Jeff Teague wanted to stay in Atlanta, and ultimately it played out that way, but only after the Milwaukee Bucks issued an offer sheet that was matched by the Hawks.
As Teague tells the story he was happy with either situation, and had Atlanta passed on matching he’d have been more than comfortable with Milwaukee, but staying in Atlanta was good too.
Teague now finds himself in the middle of a totally new roster, with lots of new pieces and a new head coach and coaching staff.
Teague, who took part in last week’s adidas Nations in Long Beach, California says he’s ready for a bigger role in Atlanta and understands that with the new money he’s owed will come greater responsibility for the team’s success.
Teague has steadily become one of the better guards in the Eastern Conference ranking sixth in the East in scoring last season with 14.6 points per game and ranking fifth in the East in assists at 7.2 per game.
With Josh Smith and his 15 shots per game out of the lineup in Atlanta via free agency, the Hawks will need more from their 6’2 point guard, and Teague says he’s ready for the challenge.
Most of the offseason pundits have written Atlanta out of the Eastern Conference playoff picture, but as Teague points out those same pundits did the same last offseason when the team traded away Joe Johnson in exchange for a bunch of ending contracts.
The Hawks will return not only Teague, but All-Star Al Horford and Lou Williams, who tore his right ACL in January of last year. The Hawks big offseason moves included bringing back Kyle Korver and adding former Utah Jazz big man Paul Millsap. The Hawks also scooped up DeMarre Carroll and Elton Brand in free agency, giving the Hawks a proven, veteran core.
The Hawks entered July with almost $30 million to spend in free agency and while they did use almost all of that money, they are not tied to too many long-term contracts, giving them flexibility next season, but more importantly putting them in a position to be a major player in free agency again in the Summer of 2015.
Hawks' guard Jeff Teague talks about his teams' offseason, his trip through free agency and where he sees his team next season.
We Want To Know:
More From Nations: The annual adidas Nations tournament features some of the top high school talent and many of the notable college players that will likely comprise the next two NBA drafts. HOOPSWORLD caught up with several of them, and here are just a couple of guys to know.
Myles Turner is currently ranked in the top ten of the 2015 High School class, and while he may not be the highest profile name on the board his skill sets looks to translate pretty nicely to the NBA.
Joel Embiid is headed to Kansas this season, and the seven footer might be one of the best big men in college basketball next season. He has a tremedous array of skills and he projects to be a top 15 talent in the 2014 NBA Draft, if he opts for the NBA next summer.
More Twitter: Make sure you are following all of our guys on Twitter to insure you are getting the very latest from our team: @stevekylerNBA, @AlexKennedyNBA, @TheRocketGuy, @LangGreene, @EricPincus, @joelbrigham, @SusanBible @TommyBeer, @JabariDavisNBA , @NateDuncanNBA , @MokeHamilton and @YannisHW.
Article printed from HOOPSWORLD | Basketball News & NBA Rumors: http://www.hoopsworld.com
URL to article: http://www.hoopsworld.com/nba-am-rivers-wants-to-be-sixth-man
Copyright © 2013 HOOPSWORLD | Basketball News & NBA Rumors
Part of the USA TODAY Sports Media Group.