On Monday, Duke officials announced freshman combo guard Austin Rivers will enter the NBA and hire an agent forgoing his final three years of collegiate eligibility. In this year’s draft, Rivers will be one of the more intriguing prospects. Rivers possesses the necessary confidence, quick first step, ability to create and work ethic to be a successful professional. NBA scouts, however, are worried that he will be limited at the next level due to his lack of a true position, small frame and unconventional jump shot mechanics.
Though the draft order is still unknown, here are three teams that could end up drafting Rivers in June:
1. Boston Celtics
Austin Rivers is no stranger to the organization given that his father, Doc Rivers, is the head coach. The Celtics are not likely to have a draft pick until the middle or late first round, which is where Rivers is currently projected to be taken. Furthermore, Boston’s current shooting guard, Ray Allen, is 36 years old and at the end of his NBA career, so Rivers would seemingly be a good replacement for him. In his final years as pro, Allen would be the perfect mentor for Rivers as he begins his professional career. The Doc-Austin connection would be very conducive to ticket sales and general manager Danny Ainge already has a good relationship with the ACC rookie of the year. Overall, this draft pick seems like a perfect fit from all angles.
2. The Orlando Magic
The Magic desperately need a dynamic guard that can get into the lane off the dribble. Rivers could fill that void. Orlando’s personnel would give Rivers the opportunity to be very successful also. Former Duke star JJ Reddick and Hedo Turkoglu are two deadly sharpshooters that must be guarded tightly on the perimeter, thus giving Rivers ample space to create off the bounce. If the double team comes, Rivers could then dish to the best center in the game, Dwight Howard, who will stay in Orlando for at least one more season. The makeup of Stan Van Gundy’s roster would seemingly allow for Rivers to excel early in his NBA career.
The hometown hero-factor would also make Rivers an attractive option for the Magic. Rivers grew up in Orlando, attending Winter Park high school. In his junior and senior seasons, the 6-foot-4 guard led his team to back-to-back Florida 6A state championships.
3. New Jersey Nets
Current New Jersey point guard Deron Williams has expressed his discontent with the franchise after failing to land Howard on the trade market. It would not be surprising if Williams parted ways with the organization soon as they relocate to Brooklyn, in which case Rivers would be a viable option for the Nets in the NBA draft. Rivers, like Williams, has the ability to play point guard and shooting guard. The lack of talent on New Jersey’s roster would allow Rivers to be the go-to-guy from day one. And a trio of Rivers, Brook Lopez and Kris Humphries would give the Nets a young nucleus to build from going forward.