2012 NBA Draft Scouting Reports: Do You Really Know Austin Rivers?

Can you pick 2012 NBA Draft prospect Austin Rivers out of a lineup of other combo guards? (Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-US PRESSWIRE)

In the spirit of reinforcing the inherent uncertainty of the draft process, I have designed a quick test to see if we really know what the heck we are talking about when strong opinions are formed on players yet to touch an NBA court. Projection is a tough business (I've been wrong enough times to know that I'm not a reliable source of scouting wisdom), but let's see if you can pick 2012 NBA Draft prospect and former Duke guard Austin Rivers out of a lineup with Toney Douglas and Jerryd Bayless....

Recall that Toney Douglas was drafted with the No. 29 pick in the 2009 NBA Draft by the New York Knicks, while Jerryd Bayless was selected with the No. 11 pick by the Indiana Pacers (traded to the Portland Trail Blazers on draft night). As with the first edition (a John Henson lineup), all scouting report quotes are taken from Draft Express and edited to exclude any direct identification. I posted the correct order for the first edition in the comments section, just to avoid ruining the fun if you still need to take a shot at the exercise.

As I noted in my latest Mock Draft Meta-Analysis feature, Austin Rivers has jumped into the top-10 prospect list based on composite rankings, but do you really know the difference between his scouting report and those of Douglas and Bayless? Once again, let's just call them players A, B and C (going left-to-right) for now:

"He is certainly stuck between the 1 and the 2 positions, but has solid size [] with outstanding athleticism on top of that. [He] is an incredibly smooth player—quick, fluid, explosive, with a terrific first step, capable of elevating off his feet with ease—the entire package as far as athleticism is concerned. He has a somewhat slight frame, but is regardless a strong player for his age, seeming to have maximized himself from a physical perspective fairly well."

"With a good frame and a long wingspan, [he] certainly looks the part…He has nice quickness as well, to the point where he can both beat most collegiate defenders off of the dribble and stay in front of some of the conference's deadliest scoring guards. Though he doesn't have elite leaping ability or explosiveness, [he] is a good athlete with the physical tools to be competitive at the next level."

"[He] is a bit undersized for a NBA shooting guard, but compensates with [his] wingspan. Athletically, [he] lacks elite strength and explosiveness as a leaper in traffic, but has very good quickness and fluidity, which he maximizes with the timing of his first step and ball-handling skills."

"It was [his] athleticism and scoring instincts that made him the catalyst for [his team’s] offense and defined his role."

"He’s an outstanding shooter first and foremost, showing terrific shooting mechanics, superb elevation creating separation from his defender, and all the confidence in the world to fire away in any situation imaginable. His release is a bit on the deliberate side, but this is a minor flaw that surely can be corrected in time."

"On the offensive end, [his] best weapon is his perimeter jump-shot... His form is very solid, with a lightning quick release and a consistent release point. As he moves inside of the arc, he has …develop[ed] a mid-range game that includes an array of pull-up jump shots and floaters. His outstanding ball handling skills help him in this area, but so too does his quickness."

"Shooting the ball with somewhat unorthodox mechanics that appear to be smoother off the bounce than in spot-up situations, [he] gets great elevation on his jumper and has the footwork and quick dribble moves to get his shot off in virtually any situation."

"More than just a shooter, though, [he] is also a terrific shot-creator, with an aggressive slashing mentality and a real killer instinct making his way to the basket. He’s explosive enough with his first step or wicked crossover to just beat players off the dribble going left or right, but also possesses excellent ability to change gears, stop and go, and mix in hesitation moves to keep his defender off balance."

"[He] is not a selfish player, he can certainly find the open man and is pretty gifted passing while on the move, but it’s pretty clear at this point that he’s much more comfortable as a scorer than he is as a playmaker. He has a tendency to pound the ball in the half-court, over-dribbling excessively and making poor decisions when forced to play at a slower tempo."

"His outstanding ball handling skills [and] quickness…allows him to be an effective slasher at the collegiate level, showing the quickness to get to the rim and, consequently, to the foul line…After watching tape, however, it is immediately clear that [he] is most comfortable looking for his own offense."

"When he does run the pick and roll…he looks for his offense first and foremost, only passing the ball off to one of his big men if he cannot find the daylight to get his shot off…it is not likely that [he[ will ever show a pure point guard's mentality, though anybody interested in him at the next level will surely know this already."

"A crafty ball-handler with no shortage of shifty hesitation moves or blistering cross-overs, [he] showed the ability to create separation from his defender in one-on-one situations and turn the corner to get into the paint on the pick and roll, even splitting the defense in impressive fashion on occasion. Extremely confident and aggressive…"

"When attacking the basket early in the year, [he] often seemed to get tunnel vision, heading straight into the teeth of the defense and attempting to either finish over or around opposing big men regardless of whether or not he had a shooter open in the corner or an open 15-footer after his initial move."

"Defensively, [he] shows a lot of potential, not just with his tools, but with the commitment he’s displayed to competing on this end of the floor. He has excellent lateral quickness, clearly having received some solid coaching on this part of his game early on his career. His awareness isn’t always the best…and he lacks some strength to get through screens defending the pick and roll at times… but considering his [] huge offensive role on the team, it’s hard to nitpick too much here."

"On the defensive end of the floor, [he] has a stellar reputation…He displays very good lateral quickness, which combined with his strength and wingspan, should make his transition to the next level easier. He has an aggressive mentality on the defensive end, constantly pressuring the ball…This aggressive style of play also results in him getting beaten off of the dribble, though in fairness, it is very effective in [his team’s] defensive scheme..."

"On the defensive end, [he] was not an impact player. Playing with an inconsistent energy level, [he] did a respectable job staying in front of his man when dialed in, but sometimes gave up penetration to more explosive players or was too aggressive stepping up to meet a ball-handler with a head of steam…Lacking great size and length for his position from a NBA perspective, [he] could stand to add some muscle to his frame to prepare him for the rigors of the pro-game, as he'll need to make the most of his tools considering he does not stand out in any one area on this end of the floor."

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