Austin Rivers, Duke’s highly-talented yet occasionally-inefficient shooting guard, is reportedly declaring for the 2012 NBA Draft, prompting the question: Would the Boston Celtics draft Rivers and team him with his father, Doc?
Visit DraftExpress if you want to find out more on Rivers’ draft stock, but the current Duke freshman is projected as a mid-first round pick, almost exactly where the Celtics’ two draft choices are likely to land. If the youngster falls to Boston’s picks, Danny Ainge and Doc Rivers would have a rare situation to handle.
And if that scenario does come to fruition, I would advise against drafting the young Rivers, even if he’s the top-rated player left on the draft board. Coaching a son in professional sports is difficult enough. Coaching a raw son whose skill set still requires plenty of polish (and likely a year or more of coming off the bench, at least as long as the Celtics are playoff contenders) is even more difficult.
When I think about the possibility of one Rivers coaching another, I immediately think to Saul Smith, Tubby Smith’s son who played for his father at Kentucky. I don’t remember much about Saul’s time in Kentucky. I remember the Wildcats won an NCAA tournament in Saul’s freshman year, with which he had little to do. I remember Saul’s hair flopped in wispy curls. I remember Saul becoming one of the most hated Kentucky players ever, largely because his father gave him a lot of playing time and he did not perform like a Kentucky starting point guard should. I remember watching those teams and thinking about how difficult it must have been to be Tubby Smith, whose two choices were:
1) Bench his son, infuriate his family, win more games.
2) Keep his son in the starting lineup, win fewer games, keep familial relationships tight.
Tubby chose choice number two, but the point is, there are no good choices when coaching your son, unless your son happens to be the team’s best player by a wide margin. And though I don’t know exactly how Austin Rivers’ game will translate to the NBA, I saw enough of him at Duke to know he won’t immediately become the best player on any team to which he is drafted.
Drafting someone else is the smart play for the Celtics, even if it’s neat to think of the potential father-son tandem.