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2016 Clippers Player Preview: Austin Rivers

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We continue our breakdown of every player on the Clippers' roster with guard Austin Rivers.

Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Name: Austin Rivers

Height: 6'4"

Weight: 200 lbs.

Position: PG/SG

Experience: 3 years

2015 Key Stats:

Games

MPG

PPG

FG%

3 PT%

Total

76

20.6

12.2

40.9

29.8

With LAC

41

19.3

7.1

42.7

30.9

LAC Playoffs

14

17.9

8.4

43.8

37.1

Contract Status: 2 year, $6,454,902 million deal; Year 2 is a Player Option

Overview: As a shock to no one, Austin Rivers is a combo-guard. His Per36 for assists has never surpassed 4.3 in any of his three seasons in the NBA. Instead, Austin is the kind of guard that will look to score relatively frequently. This was an asset during his legendary stretch during last year's playoffs. However, the jury is still out on whether Austin has mastered this skill enough to stick around in the NBA. If it weren't for the playoffs, it's questionable whether anyone would have really cared for his return this year. His focus/sole ability to score often results in a stagnant offense when Austin's at the helm.

Defensively, Austin does have some size that enables him to be a decent defender. Along with his energy/youth, Austin is able to offer something that Paul Pierce probably cannot anymore by sticking with his assignment up and down the court.

Outlook for 2015-2016: It is rather unclear how Doc Rivers will distribute minutes among his deep assortment of bench players. Still, one can guess that Austin is facing diminished playing time. The probable answer to his playing time comes in a few parts:

(1)   Who will Doc trust more?

Pablo Prigioni may not have as high of a current talent ceiling as Austin, but he's a savvy veteran.  Doc may end up trusting Prigs more to be the "point guard" that sets up the second string offense. (You know, actually running plays instead of having players take turns with hero ball.) Likewise, Doc may trust Pablo more than Austin if/when the team needs an emergency starter.

(2)   How will the new guys play?

The minutes at SG will hinge on how the minutes are given out at SF. All four of this off-season's prized additions (Pierce, Lance, Wesley, and Smith) are capable of playing SF. The issue is the uncertainty of how any of these players will integrate into this team. This is not the first time the Clippers have hoped that their SF woes were fixed after an off-season. But in the end Yaroslav Korolev sucked, Ryan Gomes was a disaster, and Jared Dudley was pretty inconsistent.  If this year's free agent additions perform up to task, the depth at SG will also get a boost. Lance, Pierce, and Wesley can all play some SG. Austin will thus lose minutes if they are doing well and deserving playing time.

(3)  Will Austin Rivers continue to improve?

While Austin has continued to improve his stats over his three years in the Association, that's not exactly hard considering how low his stat line was when he started his career with the New Orleans Pelicans. Even the regular season version of Austin Rivers with the Clippers was mediocre to underwhelming. Things all changed when Austin had his memorable run during the playoffs. Suddenly he looked like a legitimate rotation player. Yet taking a deep breath, it's impractical to expect him to continue shooting 37.1% from 3 PT. Austin was only 29.8% from 3 PT last year overall. His performance during the playoffs can very well be written off as a walk-year spurt that many athletes seem to experience when a future contract is at stake. Thus the question is whether he will continue to deserve playing going forward. Unlike last year, the Clippers are not stuck with picking between Crawford and Austin as the primary backup guard. Instead, Austin will (or should) face a short leash this year. Any lackluster play can result in Austin disappearing on the depth chart.