2012 draft profile: Austin Rivers

The seventh in a series of profiles of players that might be of interest to the Boston Celtics during the 2012 NBA Draft (June 28, ESPN, 7 p.m.):


Projection: Lottery to mid-first round (Insider rank: 16; Position rank: 5)

In the news: Rivers has earned a reputation as a very confident player, bordering on cocky -- a reputation he's had to address throughout the draft workout process. TSN 1050 in Toronto caught up with Rivers, who addressed the label that's been bestowed upon him (via Sports Radio Interviews): "Truthfully, I just think it's kind of unfair just because that's not how I am. I think every great player is cocky and I think every great player has an ego. And that is something I have. I am cocky and I do have an ego. But it's a healthy confidence and a healthy ego. You can't have a negative one. There's a difference between being cocky and believing in yourself and believing you can do anything and you can do anything to help your team win and giving your teammates confidence ... than being an arrogant guy who thinks he knows it all and thinks he's better than everyone else."

Why the Celtics Want Him: Rivers is one of the best prospects in the draft, with a wicked crossover and one of the quickest first steps of anyone available. While not a pure shooter, Rivers can certainly make shots, and, as evidenced in a buzzer-beating win over the North Carolina Tarheels back on February 8, isn't afraid to take them when the game is on the line. Rivers is fiercely competitive (as noted above) and has always seemed to have a game better suited for the NBA than the collegiate ranks. He employs a very crafty floater that makes him very difficult to defend when he gets into the paint, but he has to become a better free throw shooter if he plans on getting to the line consistently (he shot just 65.8 percent from the line during his only season at Duke). Rivers will find a way to be a successful player in the NBA and already has the praise of Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge.

Why the Celtics Don't Want Him: It's not that the Celtics don't want Rivers, they just, most likely, won't be able to get him. While originally projected as a late lottery pick, Rivers' stock apparently has risen, as he's projected to go in the top 10 in many of the latest mock drafts, including ESPN Insider Chad Ford's. Ainge said during an appearance on Boston sports radio WEEI (93.7 FM) last Thursday that it's unlikely the Celtics will be able to package their two first round picks (nos. 21 and 22 overall), to move up that high in the draft, and it's unlikely any team they'd be trading with would want any of the other assets the C's might be willing to part with. If Rivers is ever to play for his father in a Celtics uniform, it'll most likely have to come further down the road.