Austin Rivers is no longer Historically Awful

Published: January 27, 2014

I felt bad for Rivers last year.  It’s a bit of an understatement to say that he got slammed by most of the NBA-related media.  The draft kept being referred to as a 9-man draft, with Rivers brought up at 10 as the perfect eye-rolling example of a failure.   I wasn’t too kind either, as I tried to be optimistic, but I’ll remind you I didn’t even have him in my top 15 draft prospects that season. (I also had Damian Lillard 13th and Royce White 10th.  What?)

By the end of the season, Rivers finished with the 6th worst PER ever for a player with at least his minutes played, and the 14th worst in Win Shares. (Fun Fact: The winner of worst Win Shares ever is Woody Sauldsberry, back in the 1960’s.  In one season he played 1491 minutes and shot 29.9% from the field on 11 shots per game.  He owns 3 of the 4 worst Win Shares seasons ever.  Unfathomable.)

Well, I have news for all you Austin Rivers fans!  Austin’s most promising attribute was always his youth and the hope he could turn an excellent handle and first step into something useful offensively. (It’s definitely not his name.  Every time I hear his name, I  think of that old Sylvan Learning Center commercial where a proud mom says “Austin, you’re a reader!” Anyone else have this problem?)  The good new is that Austin has improved!  He is no longer historically awful!

He is now only replacement level bad.

His PER has risen to 10.8 from 5.9 last year.  According to PER-creator John Hollinger’s models, an average guard pulled from outside the league during the season (i.e. any replacement player) will be able to produce a PER of about 10.5.   So he’s got that beat!  And if you look at his Win Shares or Win Produced per 48, he’s no longer putting up negative numbers. (I.E. actually costing wins) Instead, his numbers are ever so slightly positive.  YAY!

On a serious note, this is good news.  Rivers physically looked like a boy amongst men last year.  This year he looks bigger and more able to handle the physical demands of playing against NBA-sized men. He’s starting to finish more often at the rim, and has cut down on the number of times per game he dribbles into trouble with no escape plan.  Since guards typically peak statistically when they are 24-25 years old, he’s still got three years to continue to figure things out.  If he continues to improve on a similar track as we’re seeing now, he could easily be producing at the level of an average NBA guard or better by the end of his rookie contract.

For reference, here’s his numbers the past two seasons, normalized per 36 minutes.  Other than rebounding, it’s all improvement.

2012-13 9.9 .372 2.2 .326 2.7 .546 2.8 3.2 0.7 0.2 1.9 9.6
2013-14 12.4 .394 2.6 .364 4.3 .618 2.6 3.6 1.3 0.2 1.6 13.4
Provided by View Original Table
Generated 1/27/2014.


  1. bobmurrell

    January 27, 2014 at 10:28 am

    I’ve got high hopes for him. I’m hoping that our bench of the future is Rivers, Withey and Miller, and this year is the first step towards that goal.

  2. 504ever

    January 27, 2014 at 12:52 pm

    Ironic that we are celebrating that Rivers is essentially equal to a guy off of the street (a good D League player) when he was actually the 10th pick 1.5 years ago.  Certainly Rivers has improved, but whether he makes it even close to an average player, PER of 15, is a guess at best.

    FYI: Withey’s current PER above 15 while Millers is just below 10.

  3. Nicks65

    January 27, 2014 at 3:21 pm

    A really talented writer on this site once suggested, that Austin Rivers could develop in to a solid contributor for the (then) Hornets. 

    In all fairness, I got some stuff wrong, but the numbers said he was going to get better, and at worse, he was probably headed to being a replacement level player. Trolls going troll though.

  4. yaboytonez

    January 27, 2014 at 5:33 pm

    So disappointed with Rivers. He should have stayed at Duke.

  5. yaboytonez

    January 28, 2014 at 6:23 am

    Nobody here is “hating”. Just giving an opinion. We all have a right to do so. Furthermore, nobody put a gun to Austin’s spoiled & arrogant head and said leave school early. That was his decision. It was a bad decision. He is an over confident underwhelming player. His age means nothing BTW he came into the league at 20 years old. I’ve watched him practice I go to the games. He acts SUPERIOR. He swears he’s elite. His game simply does not back up his demeanor.

  6. yaboytonez

    January 28, 2014 at 6:28 am

    You take all accountability off this kid. How do you know his work ethic? You don’t. Go by what you see. He blows lay ups, plays decent defense, turns the ball over, sometimes makes good passes, is very inconsistent, is young, and only truly succeeds when he plats back ups or D leaguers. The kid was said to be as good as Millard who is the SAME age coming from a MUCH smaller school. Being Docs son don’t have an influence Doc was not a hall of fame player. He was decent.

  7. yaboytonez

    January 28, 2014 at 6:34 am

    I agree, good points. I want him to do well.

  8. yaboytonez

    January 28, 2014 at 6:34 am

    Very good goals for him to meet.

  9. adfly

    January 28, 2014 at 8:09 am

    Lillard is 2- 3 years older than Austin. Even on draft night no one thought they were even lillard was always thought as the better player. As for his work ethic you can see it on the court. He gives more effort than anyone else on this team not named Anthony Davis

  10. 504ever

    January 28, 2014 at 9:39 am

    I’d like to see a statistical analysis of players who started out with a first season PER of around 6 or players who have a second season PER of around 11 and show how high their PER got and for how long.  Or do the analysis with Rivers’ win shares.  My point is getting to a PER of 11, or a barely positive win share, does not mean Rivers has the talent and ability to go significantly higher, especially when he is mostly playing against backups.  
    Just cause Rivers is young doesn’t mean he isn’t close to his ceiling.  For those writers or fans who think his ceiling is much higher, see if history backs that idea up.

  11. yaboytonez

    January 28, 2014 at 9:56 am


  12. yaboytonez

    January 28, 2014 at 9:59 am

    With you pointing out the error in age I made you made my point. The guy played many years in college ball. He’s more polished because of it. He’s humble & hungry. I like Rivers but I can’t ignore that Kobe Bryant-like persona he has. Especially with the limited production. He has about 2 and a half years before he’s supposed to be able to produce consistently. Guards usually start putting it altogether at the age of 23

  13. bucklezzzman

    January 28, 2014 at 2:11 pm

    yaboytonez Please explain how you got the idea that Austin is “spoiled & arrogant” other than this supposed demeanor you speak of lol I don’t know how fans can make vicious attacks on players’ CHARACTER and not PLAY by simply attending games and “watching him practice” (probably only a single number of times out of the 1348573645837 practices he’s been a part of in since being in NOLA) smh I get his play has been disappointing but theres not doubt he’s made strides and can still be an integral part of this core off the bench going forward
    And btw he was drafted when he was 19 which is what xman20002000 was alluding to when talking about when Austin stepped into the big leagues smh

  14. yaboytonez

    January 28, 2014 at 2:38 pm

    Its not an idea its fact. I went to the open practices last year & this year. I like this player so I followed him when he was at Duke all the way through the draft. Every scouting report said the same thing. Elite confidence, superiority complex, or alpha dog attitude Last year I attended 6 games this year & 24 last year. I watched the summer leagues, I have seen a lot of this kid 1st hand and 2nd. He acts like he is Kobe. I like Rivers, I hoped it wasn’t true but it is. Research him, watch him play live. Its not a vicious attack, you’re exaggerating. Its one opinion. His elite attitude plus poor play equals arrogance.

  15. yaboytonez

    January 28, 2014 at 2:46 pm

    Its not an idea its fact. I went to the open practices last year & this year. I like this player so I followed him when he was at Duke all the way through the draft. Every scouting report said the same thing, quick, good handles, can pass, awkward release on his jumper, average athleticism, needs to add size elite confidence or alpha dog attitude. This year I attended 6 games and 24 last year. I watched the summer league games all of his AU highlights and hoop mix tapes. I have seen a lot of this kid 1st hand and 2nd. He acts like he is Kobe, NOW. I like Rivers, I hoped it wasn’t true but it is. Research him, watch him play live. Its not a vicious attack, you’re exaggerating. Its one opinion. Off the court he is a polished humble kid. On the court he is arrogant. And his birthday is in August he was damn near 20 when was drafted. He was 19 and 3/4, happy?

  16. bucklezzzman

    January 28, 2014 at 3:26 pm

    yaboytonez Off the court he’s polished and humble but on the court he’s arrogant??? LOL it’s really either one or the other when referring to somebody’s character honestly. What has been an example of him being arrogant on the court this year??Arrogant would be more like mocking opposing players, bickering with coaches thinking you know everything, not being a team guy, pouting about playing time, not being excited for your teammates when their making a play and you’re on the bench, etc etc. He’s done none of those things, and he (along with Morrow) is always the most pumped, hype guy on the bench encouraging those on the floor. Kobe is an A-hole, despite his greatness, and Rivers exudes none of that. If anybody on this team does since their tenure here, its definitely Gordon. Rivers works his tail off and has been playing great since Jrue went down. It’d be one thing if he was overconfident & lazy, but he’s not.
    And I’ll take Coach K & Monty’s word profusely denying the ridiculous consensus about Austin’s “attitude” than scouting reports, YouTube videos/highlights, and one fan’s perspective over what they see in OPEN practices and games lol

  17. yaboytonez

    January 28, 2014 at 4:20 pm

    You sound bad. You can absolutely play one way and live another. Read these articles

  18. yaboytonez

    January 28, 2014 at 4:23 pm

  19. yaboytonez

    January 28, 2014 at 4:27 pm

    Its really not debatable. Rivers has been labeled cocky, arrogant, egotustical, a d*ck, an elitist….you name it he’s been called. Now how could that follow him through his entire career and not be true. I’ve seen it with my own eyes. Believe what you want. I was never trying to convince you, rather just conveying an observation.

  20. bucklezzzman

    January 28, 2014 at 4:31 pm

    yaboytonez what does this have to do with arrogance? He had a horrible rookie year, we know

  21. bucklezzzman

    January 28, 2014 at 4:33 pm

    yaboytonez a highly competitive midnight madness scrimmage with a touted incoming freshman trying to go and take a “vet’s” spot lol shocker

  22. bucklezzzman

    January 28, 2014 at 4:35 pm

    yaboytonez “you don’t want an arrogance that affects your team and thats something Ive never had” – after mentioning that a healthy ego is fine
    Sounds about right

  23. bucklezzzman

    January 28, 2014 at 4:45 pm

    yaboytonez where are all the egotistical, arrogant, cocky play, bad teammate-ish articles written since he’s been in NOLA?? (which is all I really care about)
    Yes, he struggled bad early as he was thrown in the fire, and could it have been because he was trying too hard because he was Doc’s son, or thought it was going to come easy to him? Sure. I wonder how many college ballers coming out thought it’d be easy and struggled lol but saying he’s arrogant on the court at this point as a Pelican is reaching. If anything he’s been humbled since his HS/Duke days since he’s not top dawg. Im still waiting on something you’ve seen from his play in NOLA that would constitute this.. not something 2-3 years ago

  24. yaboytonez

    January 28, 2014 at 5:17 pm

    I never said bad teammate. In your mind arrogance means detriment to the team. In my my mind it means cocky & full of oneself.

  25. yaboytonez

    January 28, 2014 at 5:20 pm

    There’s nothing more to say. You ignore whatever info or opposite opinion there is. Without countering with a single fact or supporting opinion to demonstrate your own. We can agree to disagree

  26. bucklezzzman

    January 28, 2014 at 5:32 pm

    yaboytonez you didn’t say that but a couple of the articles that you posted insinuated that Austin is one. And I didn’t ignore anything you said, you just keep reaching back to the Duke days which are irrelevant to what he’s doing now with the Pelicans. I asked where all these “supporting opinion” articles about his attitude since joining New Orleans or an on-court incident demonstrating (IN NOLA) his arrogance and the fact that you can’t present that like you easily did from his college days alone demonstrates my own opinion about him not CURRENTLY being this “full of himself” player that you’re saying he is.. as if he’s said, done, or pulled some of the stuff Dion Waiters, for example, has in Cleveland which in my opinion is an example of a arrogant, full of himself, lack of effort, attitude.
    But I digress..

  27. DavidLeBoeuf

    January 31, 2014 at 7:52 am

    yaboytonez  Kobe-Bryant like persona???  Who are you watching?  I’m usually yelling at the TV for Rivers to shoot the damn ball instead of passing up open shots!  I think he’s trying too hard to be TOO unselfish.  He says all the right things.  Doesn’t pout.  Plays hard.  Plays good D.  The jump from last year to this year has been fantastic, but he is still in a kids body.  He can get to the rim whenever he wants, but he has got to get stronger so he can absorb that contact and still finish.  I’ll wait until he fills out before I make a final observation, but as far as attitude, you are WAY off base.

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