NY Knicks: Former point guard Austin Rivers fits well in Denver

Austin Rivers, NY Knicks. (Photo by C. Morgan Engel/Getty Images)
Austin Rivers, NY Knicks. (Photo by C. Morgan Engel/Getty Images) /

Former NY Knicks Point Guard Austin Rivers has found a new home with the Denver Nuggets.  Rivers had a short stint with New York, ending anticlimactically as Rivers was benched for the newly acquired and coach favorite, Derrick Rose.

NY Knicks: Austin Rivers couldn’t crack crowded backcourt

In 21 games with the Knicks, Rivers averaged 7.3 points with 2.2 rebounds and 2 assists in 21 minutes per game. He had his moments as a spark plug, highlighted by a January 26th performance against the Utah Jazz in which he scored 25 points on 10/10 shooting in the first half (he didn’t score any points in the second half). But Rivers’ style of iso ball didn’t mesh with the lack of playmaking and ball movement that the Knicks struggled within the first half of the season.

Rivers found himself out of the rotation and waiting for a trade. One eventually came, as he was dealt to the Oklahoma City Thunder with Ignas Brazdeikis as part of a three-team trade that landed the Knicks a couple of future second-round picks. Rivers was swiftly waived by the tanking Thunder and signed a 10-day deal contract with the Nuggets. On Friday, Denver extended Rivers’s until the end of the season.

Denver’s season and Finals hopes were turned upside down after star Point Guard Jamal Murray suffered a season-ending ACL Tear. But the Nuggets have kept their momentum, as MVP favorite Nikola Jokic has led the team to a 9-1 record in their last ten games. Michael Porter Jr, who was drafted five picks behind Kevin Knox in the 2018 NBA draft, continues to improve every day. He’s averaging 18.9 points on 54.3 / 44.3 / 78 shooting.

Rivers is set up for success in Denver. Despite Murray’s injury, the team still has clearly defined roles, as Jokic will lead the offense as the primary ball-handler. His pick-and-roll game with newly acquired Aaron Murray has been beautiful. He will fit well with Denver’s bench unit, as it appears Facundo Campazzo will continue to start.

The acquisition of Derrick Rose, Thibodeau’s allegiance to Elfrid Payton, and Immanuel Quickly outplaying expectations resulted in a crowded backcourt that Rivers couldn’t crack.  Rivers’ departure also allowed for more playing time for Alec Burks, who emerged as an essential clutch time shooter for the Knicks.

Austin Rivers is a good player and Denver is lucky to have him. Hopefully, we’ll see how Rivers and the Nuggets match up against the Knicks in the NBA finals.

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