NBA

Austin Rivers isn’t stopping at the rebuilding Houston Rockets

Austin Rivers isn’t stopping at the rebuilding Houston Rockets

Minnesota Timberwolves guard Austin Rivers is one of the most traveled veterans in the NBA, with a professional resume that includes stops with seven different franchises over 11 seasons.

After playing in Houston at the tail end of the James Harden era in 2018-19 and 2019-20, Rivers is now in Minnesota, helping dynamic coach Anthony Edwards toward what the Timberwolves hope will be a string of appearances of All-Stars over the next decade. . Rivers highlighted the lack of such a veteran presence in Houston after the game on Sunday, noting its adverse impact rocketsthe young guards themselves, Kevin Porter Jr. and Jalen Green.

“Somebody needs to teach KPJ and Jalen how to play the game the right way, you know what I mean? They need those vets,” Rivers said. Chron.com after Minnesota’s 104-96 win. “I like these guys, they are very talented, they can score a lot … They need someone to help them take the next step.”

Rivers, 30, has at least some perspective on the challenge facing Green and Porter faces of the franchise before either player reaches their 23rd birthday. Rivers was drafted by New Orleans with the No. 10 pick in the 2012 NBA draft, joining the Hornets (now the Pelicans) after just one season at Duke. On Sunday, he name-checked Hall of Fame point guard Chris Paul and bench scorer extraordinaire Jamal Crawford as he recalled their impact on his development as a professional.

“Those veterans mean everything when you’re young,” Rivers said. “They teach you how to run the game, how to control things as a guard. Not everything has to be [isolation]. Sometimes it’s about making that quick read, making that quick decision, keeping things moving.”

The growing pains for Porter and Green this season were on full display in Sunday’s loss. Green, in particular, extended his current shooting slump as he finished the night with just nine points on 15 shots, and didn’t hit a single free throw attempt in the contest. In a season that many expected him to have a leap toward All-Star consideration, Green’s development has since stalled.

Rivers checked on Green’s struggles after the game. He was compared to Green as players in their teens and early 20s, with both coming into the league following roles as de facto scorers and playmakers throughout their amateur careers. Rivers added that he would have plenty of knowledge for Houston’s top two guards if he still called Toyota Center home.

“The talent is there. They can really score. It’s just a matter of them doing what they have to do,” Rivers said. “I know if I was here I’d be in their ear, bothering them. Maybe they hate it, maybe I’ll get on their nerves, but it’ll be for their own good.”

Houston continues to cement itself further into the Western Conference cellar with each passing game, and Sunday’s loss to Minnesota marked the team’s seventh straight loss and 12th in their last 13 games. And while the performance of Porter and especially Green is concerning, Rivers was quick after the game not to criticize the pair of precocious guards. For Rivers, his growth is currently limited by the lack of a vocal veteran presence.

“It’s not up to them, it’s not up to Kevin to get Kevin,” Rivers said. “And you can’t look to a coach, either. You need your teammates. It’s got to be someone on the team to guide them through this, and hopefully, they’ll be better for it.”





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