In a season plagued by injury, Austin Rivers has been one of the main standouts for the LA Clippers. Long given a hard time due to his relationship to head coach Doc Rivers, the versatile guard has matured in absence of key Clippers guards.
Rivers entered the season as one of a plethora of talented backcourt scorers, Milos Teodosic and Patrick Beverley were supposed to handle the starting duties, while Rivers and veteran Lou Williams would come off the bench to provide instant offense.
A season-ending injury to Beverley and plantar fasciitis for Teodosic put a crimp in those plans, however. Rivers has filled in capably, averaging 14.3 PPG and 3.4 APG for a team that is also missing key outlet Blake Griffin. Griffin, who suffered an MCL sprain that will keep him out for up to eight weeks, made life much easier for guards like Rivers. Now, they must create their own shot–no easy feat.
Rivers has responded, though. In a recent loss to the Minnesota Timberwolves, the guard erupted for 30 points on 9-for-14 shooting. The Clippers are 8-14, but there is a path back to relevance as soon as Teodosic and Gallinari are able to return. A backcourt featuring Rivers and Williams, with a frontcourt of Gallinari and DeAndre Jordan, would keep the Clippers competitive in most games.
With a healthy complement of players, the Clippers opened the season 4-0. Griffin’s return will go a long way in telling where this Clippers season is headed.
For now, Rivers and Williams will have to absorb much of the scoring responsibility. Rivers appears to be up to the task.
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