If Doc Rivers wasn’t the head coach and the one in charge of personnel decisions for the Los Angeles Clippers, would Austin Rivers be playing for them? Would he even be in the NBA?
Rivers returns to the Clippers, signing a two-year, $6.4 million deal. Three years into his NBA career, no one is quite sure what to make of him. Being Rivers’ son hasn’t hurt.
Rivers had a few bafflingly good performances in the postseason. I mean straight out of nowhere. The problem is that they’re mixed with 0 and 2 point games in which everything he does and decides on while being on the court hurts his team. After scoring 17, 10, 25 and 12 in the first four games of the series against the Rockets, Rivers scored a total of 15 points in the next three games while shooting 26.1% from the field.
Not that the backup point guard market is filled with excellent free agents. Bringing someone back who is still young and still has an obvious upside isn’t such a bad decision. He knows the system they play in, and proved in short spurts last season that he does indeed have a place in the league and even on a contender, at least in a small, un-important role.
But it’s hard to shake the feeling that if it wasn’t for the Clippers basically saving him from the New Orleans Pelicans, Rivers was on the quick way out of this league. He remains a very bad decision maker, who attacks the basket regardless of what’s happening around him. Sometimes he gets hot, but he’s ice cold more often than not.
He landed a nice deal that keeps on the team for two more years under the protective wing of his father. Is that the recipe to having a long, unimpressive but safe NBA career? Or does Rivers have it in him to prove he’s more than just a kid getting parental favors in the form of an NBA job? Maybe this season will finally tell us.