Thursday , Jul , 14 , 2011 J.N.

Potential NBA talent – Austin Rivers and Harrison Barnes

I’m done talking about the NBA lockout. Let’s focus on more constructive things like potential NBA talent. The 2011 draft was mostly geared towards international kids. This time, however, the objective is back to the States’ homegrown talent.  Is Austin Rivers the real deal? Who is this Harrison Barnes fellow? Are they truly the creme of the crop? Looking down the list, it seems like the big men are coming back. Get to know these kids because we’re going to hear them a lot. 

Austin Rivers immediately jumps out. The son of Doc Rivers, Austin is an explosive scorer. He’s not athletically explosive like Vince Carter or Kobe, but he can score in bunches from anywhere. Rivers is fearless and has a killer instinct. Those things are stuff that you need in a versatile scorer. The way he operates around the court seems like “Stephen Curry” and “Jimmer Fredette” comparisons are justified. 
He’s weak operating with his left hand. I cannot stress this enough. He can drive left, but cannot finish with the left. Rivers better figure out how to do that. If he cannot, he’s not going to be that good at the pro level. Furthermore, he seems like a ball hog. Rivers will not work out as a point guard. He is a straight up shooting guard, plain and simple. His defense is bad because he gambles too much for steals. 
However, Rivers has good isolation skills. That’s a huge plus. 
I’m wondering if Austin is only getting this exposure just because of Doc Rivers. We’ll see at the college ranks.  If he does not fix any of his weaknesses, he is not a top 10 draft selection. Those weaknesses are really bad. 
The comparisons to Luol Deng are stupid. The only thing they have in common is that they’re black. They play nothing alike. Harrison Barnes is a lot better than Deng. I’ve watched Luol for his entire career thus far with the Chicago Bulls. He is a two dribble player and he’s done. He’s not elite at finishing around the rim and not athletic. The only thing he has over Barnes is the defense. 
Barnes is definitely a top 5 NBA draft prospect; top 3 if you’re reaching. He has isolation skills that Luol Deng does not have. That’s not to say that Barnes is elite in that area. Unfortunately, he is not. He tends to fall in love with the three point shot. He can make them, but you do not want him shooting it constantly. You’d like to have him to taking it to the basket and mixing it in with the mid range. I noticed that he does not get to the paint one on one very well. At first glance, some Rashard Lewis comparisons come up. I’m not talking about the current Rashard Lewis. I’m talking about the Seattle Supersonic Rashard Lewis. That’s good and all, but…
Number one selection in the draft? Nope. 
A number one pick shouldn’t be compared to Luol Deng or Rashard Lewis. You need him to be comparable to Kevin Durant and LeBron. The “LeBron James” comparison is stupid, too. He is nothing like James. LeBron doesn’t step up in the 4th quarter of big games and not a leader, but he has skills for days. Barnes’ skill set does not stand up to LeBron. He does not have a great first step and lacks playmaking skills; methodical and not a good passer. 
I’m not saying he is a bad player. He’s good – better than Luol Deng. That alone warrants him to be a top 5 guy, but not number one. Hell, I don’t think he is a number 2 selection either. We’ll see what another year of college can do for him. 
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