A recent article by Marc Spears of Yahoo! Sports cites an NBA source who claims Austin Rivers has a promise from a team picking late in the lottery.
The teams who hold picks 10-14 are New Orleans, Portland, Milwaukee, Phoenix, and Houston. Of those teams, the Trailblazers, Suns, and Rockets are the most likely to pursue a shooting guard in the draft. Picking at No. 8, the Toronto Raptors have also been looking at wing players. Rivers has been linked most consistently to the Suns by mock drafts.
The news of Rivers' promise comes on the heels of a report that former Syracuse guard Dion Waiters has a promise of his own from a lottery team. The Toronto Raptors have denied that they are the team who promised Waiters. Former Connecticut guard Jeremy Lamb is another similar player who most assume will land in the lottery.
Former NBA coach Flip Saunders gave Rivers a ringing endorsement to Yahoo!, mentioning that even early lottery teams should keep their eye on the Duke product.
"If I was a team in the top 10, he’s a kid I would be zeroing in on because he has the ability to score," Saunders said. "Maybe I’m partial, but I’ve always said coach’s kids who have had dads who have been in the NBA, a lot of times know what it takes. They’re not intimidated by situations. They know how hard you have to work and usually have more respect for the game."
The knock on Rivers has been his perceived selfishness on the court and his reportedly large ego, but Rivers brushed off these concerns.
"Every single great player is cocky," Austin Rivers said. "[Michael] Jordan's cocky and [great players] have an ego. I think it's about having a healthy ego and being cocky in the right way, and that's what I am. I do have an ago, but it's a healthy one. It’s not one that brings teammates down or rubs them the wrong way or is arrogant.
"It’s more like being confident in yourself and believing in your teammates. It’s a good thing."
With the NBA Draft on June 28, expect more news on where Rivers and Waiters got their promises from as we get a better idea how the lottery teams are thinking.