Rockets’ Austin Rivers credits Monty Williams for making him an ‘elite defender’
Houston Rockets guard Austin Rivers has become a respected point guard who can defend and shoot 3-point shots well. While Rivers is happy to become such a respected figure in the league, he credits his growth as a viable NBA player to Monty Williams.
The Phoenix Suns head coach was leading the New Orleans Hornets when they selected him with the 10th overall pick in the 2012 Draft. Rivers shared that Williams laid out the foundation for him to become a superb defender who can keep up with the league’s best scorers.
“I didn’t really know how to play defense,” Austin Rivers said, per Chron’s Jonathan Feigen. “I didn’t put in the effort. There were a lot of things I didn’t have until I was coached by Monty. That is the one thing I am grateful for in my time in New Orleans. It was not my best years, obviously. I wasn’t very happy there.
“It had nothing to do with the city of New Orleans. Just the playing situation wasn’t fun for me at all. One thing I will say is Monty really taught me to be an elite defender. I’ll tell you, in terms of on-the-ball defense, I think I’m as good as anybody. I really do give credit to Monty. He was so on me about defense, it’s all I thought about.”
Monty Williams has been instrumental in Phoenix’s sudden success in the league. Given how he transformed Devin Booker and company into actual contenders in only his first year with the Suns, it’s understandable why the Rockets talent gave his former head coach such high praise.