Three weeks ago, Austin Rivers was at the top of the list when it came to players that Houston Rockets fans disliked due to his antics and a previous encounter within the tunnels of Staples Center.
But since making his debut for the Houston Rockets on Christmas Day, Rivers has quickly become a fan favorite and has left a strong impact by making clutch go-ahead baskets and providing the much-needed depth at the guard position.
The acquisition of Rivers came at a fortunate time as Chris Paul is sidelined with a hamstring injury and just last week Eric Gordon suffered a knee injury that will sideline him for at least one more week according to Mike D’Antoni.
D’Antoni also stated that Chris Paul is likely still out for two to three more weeks.
Rockets have stayed competitive
With Austin Rivers in the lineup, however, the Rockets have not struggled in the absence of Gordon and Paul as Rivers has been able to be another person who can create plays and help take the pressure off of James Harden.
Rivers has also allowed the Rockets to not have to overexert Brandon Knight as he is in the process of readjusting to playing at the NBA level after a year plus absence due to injury.
Rivers has also provided the Rockets with some moxie on and off the court. Rivers has always been a very confident player, which is why many Rocket fans were not fond of him before he joined the team, but now that he is with Houston, Rivers’s confidence has magically become endearing in Houston.
A good example occurred on Monday morning at shootaround when Rivers talked about James Harden’s step back which has become a very popular talking point amongst NBA Twitter following Warriors guard Stephen Curry‘s failed attempt at a step back.
As the Rockets begin to get more healthy going forward, it will be interesting to see how D’Antoni adjusts the lineups as Houston will have five guards in total with Harden, Paul, Gordon, Rivers, and Knight.
It will also be interesting to see if the Rockets make a move as the trade deadline approaches. Barring injury, it will be difficult for all five guards to get playing time, so it will be something to watch as the Rockets could use another wing defender or a big man who can help the Rockets crash the boards, which has been a problem all season long.
For now, Rocket fans can continue to cheer Austin Rivers as the Rockets have won 12 of their last 14 during a very difficult stretch in their schedule.