Film Room: A Look at Austin Rivers through 2 games


There’s a lot of attention being paid to the Austin Rivers experiment in Los Angeles, and rightfully so: the team gave up a lot for a marginal player (Reggie Bullock, Chris Douglas-Roberts, they gave up on veteran guard Jordan Farmar to make room for Rivers, and he’s Doc Rivers‘ son.

Anything written after limited minutes in two games can be described as “knee-jerk”, but with several opinions flying in the direction of how the combo guard has played against Cleveland and Sacramento, I’ve decided to use GIFs, numbers, and graphics to display the guards play through the first two games.

The Numbers

Whether it’s game 1 or game 2, the numbers weren’t particularly kind to Austin Rivers, especially in Game 1 where the Clippers plummeted when he and the bench were on the floor — here’s a look at the box score from both games.

"vs Cleveland: 11 minutes, 0 points (0-of-4 FGA, 0-of-2 3PA), 1 assists, -18 plus-minusvs Sacramento: 15 minutes, 1 points (0-of-3 FGA, 1-of-2 FTA), 1 assists, -2 plus-minus"

As noticed by the difference in plus-minus, Rivers looked much better in Game 2 as a Clipper than in Game 1.

It should also be noted that the pace of the game didn’t increase when Rivers entered the game. The entire purpose of acquiring Rivers was to find a guard who better fit the offense. For Doc Rivers, that meant finding a guard who could push the pace as Darren Collison did previously. In 27 minutes with Austin on the floor, the pace has decreased from 102.3 to 97. Because of the small sample size and lack of context (Rivers was kind of thrown into the fire here), it’d be irresponsible to say the experiment has failed immediately, but it’s something to keep an eye on.


Well, I’m not sure things could have gone worse.. Through two games, Rivers is 0-of-7 combined from the field, including an embarrassing air-ball from the corner against the Cavaliers.

On one particular shot attempt that caught my eye, missed shot aside, Rivers did a good job of attacking out of a Blake Griffin pick-and-roll which created the lane that allowed this shot — he missed, but it’s a good look and drew the defender from J.J. Redick, a look that could be there at a later date when the two get used to each other.

These aren’t the type of shots Los Angeles often saw from Farmar — in 529 minutes, Farmar only attempted 19 shots in the restricted area and 5 in the paint (non-restricted) area; Rivers already has 2 attempts in each category. Again citing Doc Rivers, this is the type of play he wanted out of his pint guard, reflecting what Darren Collison brought to the team last year.

Live Feed

Son of former Boston Celtics championship HC 'one of the better' free agents
Son of former Boston Celtics championship HC 'one of the better' free agents /

Hardwood Houdini

  • 3 Remaining Free Agents That Need to Be on the Celtics’ RadarChowder and Champions
  • Pass or Pursue: B/R proposes 3 veteran minimum free agents for BullsPippen Ain't Easy
  • Timberwolves free agent focus: Austin RiversDunking with Wolves
  • 4 realistic bench guards Cavaliers should target in free agencyKing James Gospel
  • Benchwarmer delivers worst take imaginable with criticism of Lakers’ Austin ReavesLake Show Life
  • It’s not uncommon for a young guard to struggle around the rim — some of the best guard finishers in today’s game (Damian Lillard, Mike Conley, Stephen Curry, etc.) struggled in the restricted area. For Rivers, his percentages in the restricted area have increased yearly, from 44.8% in 2012-13 (rookie season) to 48.6% in 2013-14 to 50% this season.

    Another good sign is that Austin Rivers is 18% of the way (1-of-2 vs. Sacramento) to matching Jordan Farmar’s free-throw attempts as a Clipper (10-of-11 on the season). This is where the “downhill” guard impact comes in and Rivers’ ability to get into the paint and draw the foul as opposed to settling for jump shots/playing a spot-up role is basically why he’s here.


    While his offense has been poor in the first two games, Rivers’ defense has been a welcome addition to the second unit that could use any available help on that side of the floor.

    Against the Cavaliers, Rivers found himself in a less-than-favorable matchup against offensive stud Kyrie Irving a few times, doing a decent job on the All-Star outside of this embarrassing ankle-breaking three:

    Against the Kings, Rivers showed the same promise, this time matched up against Darren Collison and C.J. McCollum: he slid his feet and kept the opposition from getting into the paint, an issue that’s plagued the Clippers often this season.

    Seen twice below, good perimeter defense from Rivers forced Collison and McCollum into similar tough, contested shots on the perimeter:

    Neither McCollum or Collison is an elite perimeter threat, but good defense is good defense, and seeing Rivers be able to contribute on this side of the ball through two games is a huge positive, especially for a guard who isn’t particularly known for his work on that side of the ball.

    On another play, which includes one of the many times the perfect technique to maneuver around a screen was used, Rivers forced McCollum into a tough shot that was eventually blocked by Matt Barnes.

    In the lone play Rivers allowed the defender to get past him, it resulted in an easy alley-oop to Tristan Thompson as DeAndre Jordan was forced to step up and contest a potential shot.

    GRADE: D-

    As mentioned above, things could be better. It’s not Austin’s fault Doc threw him in against the Cavaliers in a close game, but as a third year NBA player, there’s a certain expectation to play well and he didn’t do it then. But as you can tell from the language used above, I’ve found myself quite optimistic about where this experiment could end up (this may be side effect from watching Farmar for so many minutes) though past evidence tells me to do otherwise.

    Following the Celtics game, the Clippers will have three-day break before their next game (Nets), giving Austin time to learn the system and grow comfortable with where his teammates want the ball, etc. At that point is when we’ll begin learning whether Rivers can be the full-time backup point guard on this team or if this is a colossal waste of assets and time.