Austin Rivers joined the Houston Rockets the day before Christmas, immediately jumping into the Rockets rotation and playing 31 minutes in the team’s victory the next night over the Oklahoma City Thunder. In the past month, Rivers has been indispensable to Houston, averaging 37.6 minutes per game and acting as the primary ball-handler for the majority of the infrequent time James Harden is on the bench.
Despite being fully entrenched in the Rockets offense, Rivers told Sports Illustrated that he doesn’t have a thorough knowledge of the team’s playbook yet.
“I still only know like three or four plays,” Rivers admitted in the locker room before the Denver game. “Mike [D’Antoni] just lets us go. And, obviously, James Harden. Just get the f— out of his way. Let him do the heavy lifting.”
The next day D’Antoni chuckled when he heard Rivers’s explanation of Houston’s system. “He’s got good grasp of the offense,” D’Antoni said. “He has a real good grasp.”
Much has been made of Harden’s historic season, in which he has set multiple scoring records in the non-Wilt Chamberlain division, forced other coaches to aim to hold him under 50 points, and generally expanded the previously-conceived boundaries of what one individual can do in a modern NBA offense.