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The Rockets aren’t worried about Austin Rivers’ shooting slump

By Tevin Williams
Austin Rivers #25 of the Houston Rockets (Photo by Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images)
Austin Rivers #25 of the Houston Rockets (Photo by Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images)
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Austin Rivers has struggled with his shot from 3-point range recently, but Mike D’Antoni doesn’t seem too concerned since Rivers brings other skills to the table.

Just a few days ago, Rockets’ coach Mike D’Antoni said that signing Austin Rivers was “probably the most important thing we’ve done all year,” according to ESPN 975’s Salman Ali. 

Rivers thrived as a starter for the Rockets after having an up and down year for the Wizards. He’s a good spot-up shooter, a capable defender and he can create his own shot and get others involved, a skill that Houston desperately needed during a 17 game stretch without Chris Paul.

In Rivers’ first 10 games with Houston, he averaged 13.5 points and 3.0 assists on 40.3 percent shooting from 3-point range, scoring in double figures in all but one game. However, in the last seven games, Rivers has averaged just 7.1 points and has made just 17.9 percent of his 3s. He even failed to register a single point in Houston’s 28 point blowout loss to the 76ers.

Eric Gordon has recently returned, which has taken the ball out of Rivers’ hands quite a bit. Chris Paul’s return from his hamstring injury on Sunday sent Rivers to the second unit, again diminishing his role with the team. Rivers has had to make some adjustments and accept a reduced role in recent games, which could explain why his numbers have dipped, but still, he has missed quite a few open shots.

For whatever reason, Rivers’ has been ice cold in the last seven games, but Houston is confident that the other marksmen on the team will make enough 3s to compensate for Rivers’ struggles.

Mike D’Antoni knows that Rivers’ shot will return and he also pointed out to the Houston Chronicle’s Jonathan Feigen that Rivers is more than just an outside shooter.

“His ability to get to the rim, defend, give us solid minutes, which he does and has been. He’ll make them eventually. He’s valuable anyway.”

Eric Gordon and Gerald Green have gone through multiple shooting slumps this season. However, they just kept launching shots, and eventually, a few started to fall and they regained their rhythm. The same goes for Rivers, he just needs to keep taking 3s when he’s open. A shooter just needs to see one or two go in, and then everything can turn around.

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Now that Paul is back, the Rockets now have CP3, James Harden, Eric Gordon and Austin Rivers in the back court. All four of those guys can nail 3s, run the pick-and-roll and get their teammates open shots. The Houston Rockets’ depth at the guard position is in good shape going forward.

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