Rockets: Austin Rivers talks top 5 players ever, playing with Westbrook

Houston Rockets Austin Rivers (Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images)
Houston Rockets Austin Rivers (Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images) /

Houston Rockets guard Austin Rivers recently took to Instagram to share his top five players of all time, talk playing with Russell Westbrook and give his thoughts on small ball.

Austin Rivers had plenty to say when he joined theScore in an Instagram Live interview on Monday evening. In the stream, the veteran point guard gave his opinions on topics such as the best defenders in the league, his top five players in NBA history and how the Houston Rockets are staying connected during the hiatus.

Continuing the trend of Rockets turning to social media to answer questions from fans and media alike, Rivers was first asked about the future of the season.

“Eventually, the season is going to have to resume,” began Rivers. “To the people thinking the season’s going to get canceled and nothing’s going to happen, I doubt it. But, we’ll see.”

Although nobody knows for sure if the league will resume play this year, Rivers seems to be optimistic, and knowing how well Adam Silver runs things, I can’t blame him.

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Rivers was also asked how it felt to play alongside one of the best point guards in the league, Russell Westbrook, which can be summed up with one word: inspiring.

More from Austin's IG today, on playing with Westbrook:

"The way he plays so hard every single game — the energy, the passion he has for the game is inspiring."

— Space City Scoop (@SpaceCity_Scoop) March 31, 2020

“He’s a great teammate,” added Rivers. “Obviously one of the best players in the game. I love basketball and so does Russell. When you see guys that have everything and still have that type of hunger, it inspires you.”

The conversation then shifted to talent around the league, starting with defense. When pressed on who he feels are the best defenders in the league, Rivers broke it down based on positions.

For his best defensive big pick, Rivers went with Utah Jazz center and two-time Defensive Player of the Year Rudy Gobert. At the guard position, Rivers mentioned Avery Bradley and Marcus Smart as his choices before giving some love to his teammate at the forward position.

“Gotta go with P.J. Tucker. Kawhi [Leonard] can be the best but his workload is too high on offense, otherwise, it would be him.” Biases aside, you can’t fault Austin for recognizing his teammate’s defensive abilities, especially since defense is his calling card.

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Austin was then asked to give his top five players of all-time, settling on four quickly. “Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, Kevin Durant,” began Rivers. He wondered who his fifth pick should be out loud, narrowing it down to Tim Duncan and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, before ultimately settling on Duncan.

“I gotta go with someone in my era and say Duncan,” said Rivers. “People don’t realize how great of a player Duncan was.”

To wrap up the interview, Austin was asked about his thoughts on small ball.

“We’ll see. As a player you have to roll with it. It definitely requires a lot on my end. On this team, P.J. and I are the best defenders. Now we’re switching everything. I’m getting matched up with guys that are twice my size. It’s definitely an adjustment.”

Much as Tucker sounded when asked about the Rockets going small full-time, River also seemed to take a cautiously optimistic tone. The team as a whole seems to know that they will need to work harder to succeed in the new system, but that success is definitely possible.

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As the Rockets continue to await league news on what to expect next, Austin also assured everyone that he’s staying in shape and would be ready to resume play at a moment’s notice. Let’s just hope that will be sooner than later.