NBA Summer League: Austin Rivers Dominates as Pelicans beat Knicks

USA TODAY Sports

Austin Rivers had a breakout Summer League performance in the Pelicans' first-ever game, making 24 points on 15 shots, nabbing 7 boards and dishing 6 assists. He started off strong, making several hard drives to the basket in the early going, but he really seemed to gain confidence in the 2nd and 3rd quarters. When he had the ball in his hands, he was looking to drive to the basket, and neither Tim Hardaway, Jr. nor Iman Shumpert were able to keep him from getting to the paint. In addition, Rivers was rather efficient on his jumpers, knocking down several long-range looks. And, incredibly, he had only two turnovers, even though he constantly had the ball in his hands.

Rivers still has some areas to improve on, however. As pretty much everybody in the game thread noted, he can't seem to go to his left hand, even after having his right hand broken at the end of the season. And his free throws still leave something to be desired - about 20%. He made two at the end of the game to go a mediocre 7-11 from the line, but he was a woeful 5-9 before that. But his new-found athleticism and ability to finish around the basket still carry the day.

Defensively, Austin had a solid day. He was alert and consistently active on defense, often times jumping passing lanes and looking to grab steals. He was physical against the larger Hardaway and Shumpert and generally forced them to take long looks (although it Hardaway didn't require much cajoling). Everybody else gets bullets:

  • Brian Roberts had a less than stellar performance. He didn't seem to attack the rim as much as he did at last year's Summer League and turned the ball over four times. When he did get into the paint, he was pretty deadly, but he settled for long jumpers far too often and wasn't able to knock them down, going 0-4 from three. On defense, he did a good job of harassing his men and came up with a good number of steals.
  • Darius Miller had an off game, without a doubt. He didn't seem involved in the offense and tended to take a shot from wherever he received the ball. In the early going, pretty much none of them fell. Down the stretch, however, Miller knocked down two huge threes, one with a man in his face to salvage a broken possession. He finished with a pedestrian 12 points on 11 shots, going 2-7 beyond the arc.
  • Cameron Moore really took a lot of shots - 12 of them, to be exact. He looked comfortable shooting jumpers and made half of them. He doesn't look like a guy willing to drive to the rim very often, but he does a nice job spacing the floor.
  • Jon Brockman had an understated game. He played good defense down low, even though he was outsized, and he absolutely dominated the glass, nabbing 10 rebounds, 4 of them offensive. He played good defense, too, consistently rotating to try to take charges. Since he doesn't really have the height to contest shots, I suppose that's his best option. Sadly, the referees weren't as impressed as I was with his positioning, and I believe all his charge attempts were called as blocks. On offense, he was reasonably efficient, making 9 points on 7 shots with 2 assists and no turnovers.
  • The Pelicans won the game on attacking the rim and not turning the ball over - they forced an incredible 30 fouls from the Knicks while only turning the ball over 11 times throughout the game.
  • For the Knicks, Tim Hardaway, Jr. was pretty much what we expected - an athletic chucker. He went 4-12 from the floor, and his ability to get 5 free throw attempts and convert 4 of them was his only saving grace on the stat line.
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