The Houston Rockets recently acquired guard Austin Rivers after he was traded from the Washington Wizards to the Phoenix Suns, who cut him realizing he preferred a more important role on a contending team. The veteran guard was added on a minimum deal, but his contributions have been anything but minimal.
Ironically, Rockets point guard Chris Paul has a history with Rivers dating back to their playing time together under Doc Rivers and the L.A. Clippers. Although they certainly don’t have a perfect relationship, Paul is welcoming and excited to have Rivers on the team.
Chris on Austin Rivers, how he’s excited that he’s a part of this team and on the team’s success in his absence. pic.twitter.com/U8NCaEaGoI
— Kelly Iko (@KellyIko) January 1, 2019
Kelly Iko of The Athletic discussed with Paul on the addition of Rivers.
“He’s always been a really good defender and he knows the positions, he knows where to be and who to guard. He’s competitive.”
Chris Paul has had a tough go-at-it thus far this season. He’s struggled with injuries once again, suiting up for 26 of the Rockets’ 36 games so far with more absences to come as he recovers from his hamstring injury.
When he has played, the 33-year-old guard showed his age and wasn’t nearly as effective as he has been in years prior. Paul is averaging 15.6 points (lowest of his career), 4.0 rebounds (lowest since 2012-13 season), and 8.0 assists (lowest since rookie year in 2005-06) on 41.5 percent shooting (lowest of his career).
In his absence, reigning MVP James Harden has played out of his mind, which is exactly what Houston has needed from him. Over his last 10 outings (five without Paul), Harden is averaging an absurd 40.8 points, 6.8 rebounds, 8.9 assists, 2.2 steals, and 5.7 three-pointers per game on 43.8 percent shooting from the field and 41.3 percent from beyond the arc.
The Rockets are now 21-15 good for fifth in the ever-so-tight Western Conference.