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Austin Rivers Working On His Game, Thriving In Summer League

Photo by Nick Laham/Getty Images

In the last two weeks, the New Orleans Pelicans backcourt suddenly loaded, guard Austin Rivers knows he’ll have to drastically improve his play to earn playing time. After a rough rookie season, Rivers is focused on proving he belongs in the rotation.

Judging from his 2013 Summer league debut, Rivers looks more comfortable after one NBA season under his belt. Playing for the first time since fracturing his hand last March, Rivers scored 24 points, grabbed 7 boards, dished out 6 assists, and swiped a steal, leading the Pelicans summer league squad to a 77-72 win over the Knicks summer leaguers, led by Iman Shumpert.

Shumpert is a well-respected perimeter defender around the league, and Rivers was taking him off the dribble with ease.

“I’ve got to watch a lot of film to see my weaknesses and how I need to do in terms of speed, so I won’t be going a 100 miles per hour,” explained Rivers. “I kind of showed it today, getting to the lane, changing speed, pulling up for shots and getting people open.”

Pelicans coach Monty Williams described Rivers performance as simply “alright.” Williams is smart. It would be idiotic for anyone to overreact to one Summer league performance. However, pointing out improved areas of Rivers’ game isn’t overreacting.

Austin knows he has a long way to go, but is focused on earning his place with the Pelicans.

CBSsports.com NBA writer Zach Harper has more on Rivers, and his determination to prove wrong the fans and critics who have already written him off after one season. Click here to read his piece.

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