We’re going to be briefly profiling 10 potential draft targets for the Raptors (yes, this Draft is that unpredictable after No. 1) with the No. 8 pick over the next couple of weeks.
Austin Rivers – SG- 6’4, 203 lbs.
A year ago, Rivers was considered one of the best, if not the best guard prospect in the potential 2012 Draft class. A lot of people thought he’d be in the conversation for the No. 1 overall pick.
Now, after a good but far from spectacular freshman season at Duke, Austin Rivers enters the 2012 NBA Draft as one of the biggest enigmas out there, with ESPN’s Jay Bilas listing the guard as one of his six prospects with “tools, but more questions.”
Rivers is a pure scorer in the truest sense. He’s a shoot-first guard with palpable swagger and the confidence to keep shooting, even when it looks bleak and others might suggest otherwise. While Rivers has the ability to shoot the lights out from almost anywhere on the court if he gets hot, he also has the quickness, the ball handling and the burst in his first step to blow by defenders and beat them to the basket.
Like most pure scorers, the knocks on Austin’s game are that he can get selfish on the court and doesn’t exactly lay it on the line defensively. When he’s having a big offensive night, these negatives are easily forgiven, but when he’s struggling, they become increasingly difficult to justify.
Some reports have surfaced recently that Rivers has a promise from a (late) Lottery team, though it’s hard to see a team with as high a pick as Toronto making any promises to a guy like Rivers so soon.
Having said that, if he wows teams during workouts, a prospect with Austin Rivers’ scoring ability will always be intriguing to rebuilding young teams.
Update: Rivers worked out for the Raptors on Thursday, professing his love for Toronto and his father’s love for Dwane Casey afterwards. Also, Rivers is more athletic than Ed Stefanski thought he was.