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Clippers Mid-Season Progress Report: Austin Rivers

The coach's son is hurt, but he had a big spot in the rotation before going down. How do our writers grade him?

Peter Llewellyn-USA TODAY Sports

Austin Rivers joined the Clippers in a mid-season trade last year in a transaction that was one of Doc Rivers' most harshly criticized moves as GM--and also one of his best.  Giving up a package that essentially ended up being nothing (still want Reggie Bullock more?  Check his stats since he left the Clippers), the Clippers got a player who, while flawed, sparked a couple of playoff victories.  Rivers has averaged 8.1 points, 1.8 rebounds, and 1.3 assists per game in 21.6 minutes a night.  He's shooting 43.8% from the field and 28.4% from deep, and is one of the Clippers' best perimeter defenders.

Davey Bales: B+. If you'd have told me last year that I'd be lamenting the loss of Austin Rivers for several weeks as we head into the All-Star Break, I wouldn't have believed you. But here I am, lamenting. I still think that he dribbles too much to play the 1 and shoots too inconsistently to play the 2, but he's been, in my opinion, the Clippers fifth best player this year behind the Core Four. His defense has been stellar and his slashing/finishing abilities are underrated. The next step is to cut down on contested jumpers, but he has really impressed me in the first half and the Clippers will be anxious for him to return and ease the defensive burden that now falls on CP3 in his absence.

Jonathan Hu: C/C+: Given his salary and the Clippers' salary cap situation, Austin is a serviceable guard that can handle, and does deserve some rotation minutes. He's only 23 years old (Wilcox is 25). Still, Austin's 3 point shooting remains abysmal (aside from a few games where he has been hot from three). In fact, Josh Smith had a better 3 point shooting percentage with the Clippers (31%) than Rivers has had this season (28.4%). If it wasn't for Lance Stephenson's unpredictable behavior/personality on the court, there would be no reason to give Austin many minutes when you have a more talented/productive player in Lance. Alas, Austin is more focused than Lance. So given the circumstances, Austin has provided the Clippers with a player capable being on the floor when a starting guard needs rest.

Lucas Hann: B-.  I gave Lance Stephenson a C, so I think it's fair to say that Austin is ahead of him, but not by too much.  Overall, Austin's still like any young reserve in the NBA--he has his strengths and weaknesses.  He's a very talented on-ball defender who has made strides off the ball this season, and he's converted around the rim enough to be serviceable on offense.  He still doesn't rebound or create offense for others well, which I why I think he's better suited to playing SG than PG (as I said all summer, but whatever).  With Jamal Crawford deeply entrenched at backup SG, Rivers plays some point and some SF with the inclusion of Pablo Prigioni.  Still, the passing and shooting is sub-par, but C-level offense and B+ level defense will leave him with a B- in my book.