WESTWEGO, La. (AP) — The Hornets aren't wasting any time seeing how quickly Austin Rivers can learn to play point guard in the NBA.
The former Duke shooting guard is working at the point on the Hornets' Las Vegas summer league squad that opens play this weekend. He's also in line to see a lot more playing time at that position in the regular season because of this week's trade of starting point guard Jarrett Jack to Golden State.
"Now is his time to grow. We're putting the ball in his hands, putting the ball in the summer in his hands to see what he's got," said Hornets assistant James Borrego, who is acting as head coach for the summer league team.
"Hopefully Austin's that guy that can take that point guard position and run with it," Borrego said. "There's some things he's got to learn as you go, but I think we're all confident he can get there."
The Hornets took the 6-foot-4 Rivers 10th overall in last month's draft, making him the club's second pick behind top overall choice Anthony Davis.
Rivers, the 19-year-old son of Boston head coach and former NBA point guard Doc Rivers, was a slasher at Duke. He averaged 15.5 points for the Blue Devils, often scoring off the dribble.
When the Hornets ran through late-game scenarios with the summer league squad during the end of practice Thursday, Rivers took the ball up the floor, slanted along the perimeter toward the right sideline and then exploded toward the paint, putting up a driving floater that swished through as the buzzer sounded.
Rivers described himself as "an attacking point."
"It's not necessarily scoring. It's not necessarily just passing. It's just reading the defense, just go in there and attack looking to make plays for my teammates and myself and just look to attack and score and get people open," Rivers said. "Just push and if someone is ahead of me, getting them going and reward the big (men) if they're running."
Heading into training camp, Rivers will likely be the backup point guard behind veteran Greivis Vasquez, but will have the opportunity to push for as much playing time as he can earn.
"He's a natural scorer. As a point guard, he can make it work though," Borrego said. "He's got to get better and he will. He's putting in the time. He's teachable. He's coachable. He understands the game, which you want in a point guard. His instinct is to score but we're trying to slow him down, learn our offense, learn our pace, learn our rhythm and I think those are things he's going to get."