NBA PM: Austin Rivers Won’t Apologize for Confidence
In the spring of 2011, with his father’s Boston Celtics visiting the New York Knicks at Madison Square Garden, then-high school senior Austin Rivers stood near his mom and brother as throngs of media piled into the visiting the locker room.
I wasn’t writing on deadline, so I approached Austin and asked if he had a moment to speak about his commitment to Duke, his development as a player and so forth.
It only took Rivers a few moments to impress me. He was smarter than most high school-age kids and spoke of a broadcasting career and a communications degree. Life wasn’t all about basketball yet, and like many high schoolers, Rivers complained about upcoming exams.
Unlike most high schoolers, though, Rivers also complained about being teased by Rasheed Wallace and Paul Pierce for picking Duke over North Carolina and Kansas. Having the chance to choose between three or four of the most successful college basketball programs in the country is enough to make one’s head swell, and the fact that Pierce and Wallace were giving Rivers their two cents was even more remarkable.
Still, here was a teenage kid faced with one of the most-enviable decisions a basketball player can make, and Rivers came off as normal modest, humble and above all, normal.
So when Rivers began being described as “cocky” over the course of his only season at Duke, it struck me as odd. Yes, he did attempt 11.8 field goals per game as a freshman, which is bound to raise a few eyebrows in Durham. But Rivers is a scorer, and cockiness—at least the perception of cockiness—comes with the territory.
Rivers was asked about the perception on TSN 1050 Toronto’s “Cybulski & Company” show.
“I think they do a lot and I think sometimes I’ve gotten a rep for that,” Rivers said when asked if confidence is misconstrued as cockiness, as quoted by Eric Schmoldt of SportsRadioInterviews.com. “Truthfully, I just think it’s kind of unfair just because that’s not how I am. I think every great player is cocky and I think every great player has an ego. And that is something I have. I am cocky and I do have an ego. But it’s a healthy confidence and a healthy ego. You can’t have a negative one. There’s a difference between being cocky and believing in yourself and believing you can do anything and believing you can do anything to help your team win and giving your teammates confidence … than being an arrogant guy who thinks he knows it all and thinks he’s better than everyone else. There are two different kinds of cocky and I’m the first one.”
If Rivers was already in the NBA, the entire topic wouldn’t be a big deal. But because he’s going through the draft process, teams want to know these things. They want to know if a player is self-absorbed, if he’s a narcissist or—and this is the worst-case scenario—if he’s uncoachable.
And that is something Rivers doesn’t hesitate to address.
“I’m very coachable,” Rivers said. “That’s part of the reason I went to Duke, so I could learn from Coach K (Mike Krzyzewski). I didn’t go to Duke just because they’ve had good teams in the past. I went to Duke because they’re on the main stage and I get to be coached by Coach K every day and I want to learn from him. I think everybody has to be a little stubborn, but I think it has to be a good way where you’re open to learning new things and have to realize you don’t know it all.”
Rivers has other things he needs to address as well. He made only 65.8 percent of his free throws last season and his 2.3 turnovers per game is something that must be improved upon.
The good news for Rivers is that the issues he’s facing aren’t permanent. He can improve his free throw shooting and his shot selection. But his ability to penetrate and get to the basket is unique and something that can’t really be taught, which is why Rivers will probably be a lottery pick at this month’s NBA Draft.
How Much is Lou Williams Worth?
A scoring point guard who doesn’t start isn’t usually considered a top free agent prize, but Lou Williams isn’t an ordinary player.
At just 6-1, Williams is somehow a threat to score whenever he enters to the paint, which happens frequently thanks to his lethal crossover dribble. He averaged 14.9 points and 3.5 assists per game off the bench in 2011-2012, helping the 76ers pull off an upset of the top-seeded Chicago Bulls. And even though Williams is just 25, he already had six years of experience.
So it should come as no surprise that Williams, who will be an unrestricted free agent in July after opting out of his current deal, is drawing serious interest.
“We’d like to sign him, if at all possible,” president Ron Thorn told Philadelphia Daily News beat writer Bob Cooney. “He wants to test the waters. To become an unrestricted free agent doesn’t happen often, maybe once or twice in a career. He wants to see what’s out there. He has said he wants to stay with us, but we’ll have to wait and see what happens.”
The question is, will the 76ers be able to keep him?
Depending on whether or not Philadelphia decides to amnesty Elton Brand and the remaining one year, $18.16 million of his contract, Thorn may or may not be able to afford Williams.
One league source told Cooney that Williams could get Thaddeus Young’s deal, which was worth $43 million over five years. Other NBA teams wouldn’t be able to offer five years, but they can pony up around $9 million per season, and that would be a very difficult deal for Thorn to match.
Collins is supposedly very happy with Williams and is in favor of keeping a big scoring threat on his bench, but there are teams that lack offense in the NBA and Williams may represent a quick fix.
Don’t be surprised to see a team make a serious run at Williams with the promise of a starting job.
Who are the Most Overpaid Players?
Everyone loves counting other people’s money, particularly when the person in question is perceived to be overvalued.
Well Southern Utah University professor David Berri turned the valuation of NBA players into science with his 2006 book “The Wages of Wins,” and now he and CNBC.com’s David Bukszpan have put together a list of the NBA’s top-10 most overpaid players.
Basically, Berri produced a “Wins Produced” algorithm, and based on players’ salaries, his researchers produced a list of the 10 most-overpaid guys.
It should come as no surprise, but Bobcats forwards Tyrus Thomas ($12.459 million in 2011-2012) and Corey Maggette ($12.862 million) were 10th and seventh respectively, but some other NBA stars like Dirk Nowitzki, Deron Williams, Amar’e Stoudemire and Kobe Bryant made the list as well.
Who was the most-overpaid NBA player? Rashard Lewis of the Washington Wizards.
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