HANG TIME WEST – He is his father’s son, all right, skilled enough to have a lot of good days in a long NBA career, confident enough to withstand the bad ones. He is a guard, personable, smart.
Doc Rivers didn’t come to the draft with this kind of hype, though, partly because he wasn’t the child of someone who played 13 seasons and at selection time coached the Celtics, and partly because he simply wasn’t this much of a prospect. He went No. 31 in 1983. Austin Rivers, with a family name and his own name as one of the nation’s top recruits a year ago, has a very good chance to be chosen in the lottery on June 28.
That makes the likelihood of Austin lasting until Boston twin picks, 21 and 22, too distant to seriously consider. Except that he has. Out of curiosity, yes, and out of necessity because a lot of people bring it up to him, sure. But of course playing for his father has crossed his mind.
“I don’t think it would raise problems if we handled it the right way,” said the 2011-12 ACC Rookie of the Year, who became the third freshman to ever lead Duke in scoring and the first since 1983. “Handling it the right way is just knowing that it’s a business at the end of the day. Off the court, it’s father-son. But when it’s time to come between those lines, basketball wise, you’d have to handle it as a professional. It’d be hard, but I think it is manageable.”
Would it be harder on the father or the son?
“Both,” Austin said. “Because we’re both very competitive. I get everything from him. Obviously. He’s my dad. It would be different and be tough. But I think it could work out if it did happen. I don’t think it will. But if it did, I think it could work out.”
Wherever he lands, the younger Rivers will have the advantage of knowing better than most before playing a rookie game what is required to be successful in the NBA. There is a maturity to his approach, not just his game as a combo guard who wants to be in the pressure moments.
“I’m very competitive and I work very hard,” he said. “I take this very seriously. I love basketball. It’s my life. I think the thing I could bring is leadership, as a guy who’s going to come in and work hard. As far as on-the-court stuff, I think I’m just very versatile with what I can do, being a shooting guard and a point guard. I think I can be both. I think I can be a scoring point guard who can get everybody involved, someone like a Tony Parker or a Russell Westbrook. Deron Williams. Those are guys I want to be like in the NBA.”