NBA Offseason 2013: Sophomore Surge

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February 1, 2013; Denver, CO, USA; New Orleans Hornets guard Austin Rivers (25) warms up before the game against the Denver Nuggets at the Pepsi Center. The Nuggets won 113-98. Mandatory Credit: Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports

7. Austin Rivers, Guard, New Orleans Pelicans

Vitals: 6’4″, 200 lbs., 20 years old

2012-13 Stats: 6.2 points (0.395/0.343/0.585), 1.8 rebounds, 2.1 assists (1.2 turnovers), 0.4 steal, 0.1 block (2.0 fouls) in 23.2 minutes (61 games)

Summer League: Las Vegas

Rationale: Rivers’ debut season was historically awful. In that sense, avoid a slump is easy because actually getting worse is virtually impossible. In another sense, though, Rivers has reason to hope because his process is sound, albeit the results haven’t been there. Incredibly, shot selection and on-ball defense are actually two of Rivers’ strengths, as is quickness. Additionally, his shooting splits (free throws excepted) improved dramatically before his untimely wrist injury. Rivers definitely has the tools to be an NBA player, though in what capacity remains to be seen. This uncertainty is complicated by the Pelicans’ trading for Jrue Holiday and acquiring Tyreke Evans in free agency. Throw in holdover and starting shooting guard Eric Gordon and the Pelicans’ 96 minutes are guard are essentially occupied, though the three missed 61 games between them in 2012-13. Despite the inherent lack of opportunities, expect Rivers to be a net positive if he can get on the floor.

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