NBA Draft 2012: Austin Rivers Never Loses His Confidence

GREENSBORO, NC - MARCH 16: (C) Austin Rivers #0 of the Duke Blue Devils reacts as he stands between Gabe Knutson #42 and B.J. Bailey #32 of the Lehigh Mountain Hawks in the second half during the second round of the 2012 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at Greensboro Coliseum on March 16, 2012 in Greensboro, North Carolina. (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)

WASHINGTON -- Ten minutes had passed since Austin Rivers looked dejected after struggling with the "7 drill," a Wizards shooting workout favorite. The drill asks players to hit seven shots in a row, but for every miss, they must hit one additional shot before the drill can end. Twenty-five shots and four minutes later, coach Randy Wittman had to cut the drill short, telling Rivers that if he just hit six shots, he could stop. Rivers finally did.

And yet ... these were the first words out of Rivers' mouth.

"I think this was my best workout yet," he said. "I had a great workout shooting the ball."

That's Rivers in a nutshell there. Now, granted, he could have shot the ball very well in the sections of the workout that we didn't see. He also later admitted that last 7 drill was "really tough." But he clearly knew that we all saw him struggle with his shot in that drill. He had to know. And yet, the first words that came out of his mouth were about how well he did.

That's just Rivers, though. Always confident.

"Every time you step out on the floor, you should feel like you're the best one, whether it's true or not," Rivers said, explaining his mindset. "You should always feel like that, because that way, you play better, play with more confidence and give more confidence to your teammates."

It's also possible Rivers impressed in the other portions of the workout. He has a tendency to bring the ball down to his waist before he shoots, which adds an unnecessary hitch, especially against NBA athletes. That may explain his struggles shooting the ball late in the workout. But we also know he's very quick, and I know the workout included some one-on-one work. How Rivers fared in that, I don't know, but that type of thing plays more to his strengths.

I also was impressed with Rivers' demeanor during interviews. He's certainly confident, but he doesn't come across as arrogant. I also was impressed with his answer about the kind of role he expects to play in the NBA.

"I'm not just going to get the ball and go out there and dance," he said. "That's not how it works. There are too many great players in the NBA."

He'll have to walk the walk there if he's going to make it. It probably won't happen here, nor should it, because the Wizards don't need his skills. But on the right team, it absolutely could all come together for him.

More notes below the jump:

  • I wish I could tell you more about Michael Kidd-Gilchrist's individual workout prior to the group one later in the day, but we literally saw none of it. The whole situation was very strange, with the Wizards announcing 45 minutes before the workout ended that he would work out alone instead of with Rivers and Terrence Ross. He had finished up by the time media was given access, and all we got was three minutes to talk to him. I think this was agent-driven more than anything, but I'm not going to speculate about the reasons why. Either way, it was a very sharp contrast to the approach Bradley Beal took on Thursday.
  • Kidd-Gilchrist didn't say much when he talked to us. He has a stutter that causes him to struggle to speak in front of crowds, which was documented by CBS Sports' Gary Parrish during the tournament. During his brief session, he said John Wall has been a "mentor" to him.
  • Kidd-Gilchrist also said he's been focusing on improving his jump shot. "Just reps will improve it," he said. "It's every [shot] in general; also, off-the-dribble stuff." He also said he's a better passer than he showed in college.
  • For what it's worth, I did hear that Kidd-Gilchrist's workout went well, but that's about all I know. I really wish I could tell you more, but we just didn't see anything.
  • Terrence Ross was much more impressive than Rivers during the shooting drill we saw, flashing a nice, fluid stroke. But he also seemed to tire at the end, admitting that fact to reporters following the workout. "It was intense. You really have to push yourself in these workouts," Ross said. "It was really hard to do." He also admitted this was the sixth one he's attended, so you could sense some weariness.
  • Fitness was a point of emphasis for the Wizards during the second workout. After it ended, Randy Wittman pulled the three players together and explained the importance of staying in shape to the players. "Your jumper may not always be there, but your fitness has to be," Wittman said in the huddle.
  • Rivers, meanwhile, seemed more excited about the pace of the workout. "There were a lot of pick and rolls and one-on-one actions, but it's really just the pace. You go hard every time. It's not 'shoot two shots here, and now, let's see how your layups go.' It's just competing. Everybody wants to beat each other."
  • One brave reporter had the stones to ask Austin about what his father said about the Wizards' organization in an ESPN Boston story. "Be mad at my dad, not me," Rivers said with a smile. "I don't know what he's talking about. He didn't say that to me."
  • Rivers' answer on what his father has taught him to prepare for the draft was interesting. "He just told me to stay 100 percent real. Just don't try to be something you're not. Don't try to play a way you don't play. Act the way you want. That way, if they truly like you, it's going to be a true fit."
  • Ross said he has lately admired Iman Shumpert, which was a random reference. He said he loved the way Shumpert played defense last year, and also said he thinks he can go anywhere from No. 14 to No. 25 in the draft.
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