Houston Rockets: 3 goals for Austin Rivers in the 2019-20 season
1. Be willing to accept a smaller role
Last season, Austin Rivers averaged 28.6 minutes per game for the Rockets, leading Houston’s reserves in playing time. However, next season could be different. A lot of Rivers’ 13 starts came when Paul was out with a hamstring injury, and obviously Rivers played a lot of minutes in those games.
It’s unclear if the Rockets will decide to start the bigger and lengthier Danuel House at small forward or if they’ll continue to roll with Eric Gordon in a three guard starting lineup. If Mike D’Antoni decides to start House, Gordon would be Houston’s first player off the bench instead of Rivers, and EG would still likely play around 30 minutes per game.
Not to mention, Chris Paul has been exchanged for Russell Westbrook, and the Rockets won’t have to monitor Westbrook’s minutes the same way they did with CP3. Russ will likely average more minutes per game than Paul did last year and play more games over the course of the season. Not to mention, guards like Gerald Green and perhaps Ben McLemore will get spot minutes, which could eat even more into Rivers’ playing time.
Houston has the most depth at the guard position, so Rivers might end up averaging around 20 minutes per game next season instead of the 28.6 minutes he averaged last season. Some players don’t adjust well to having a smaller role and their on-court performance may suffer as a result.
However, sacrifice just comes with the territory in a team sport, especially on an elite team with a lot of talent. The goal for Austin Rivers is to maximize his effectiveness while he’s on the floor and to be a good supporter when he’s off the floor, even if he has to accept less playing time than he had last season.