NEW ORLEANS — Austin Rivers sat to the left of Anthony Davis, the media horde surrounding his table smaller than the one encircling the No. 1 pick.
Not that he cared. Not now.
While the focus is on Davis and what he’ll bring to a Hornets franchise seemingly on the way up, Rivers’ role might be just as important.
And, maybe even more important, is that he knows what’s expected of him.
“I know what you need to do to succeed,” said the 6-foot-4 Rivers, son of Boston Celtics coach Doc Rivers. “But you’ve still got to go out and do it. This is a man’s league and you’ve got such great players I’ve idolized my whole life. I’ve just got to go out there and earn it.”
It’s that attitude that Hornets coach Monty Williams is excited to have in his locker room.
“He doesn’t like to lose,” Williams said Friday, moments after the duo was introduced formally in New Orleans. “He’s just competitive. That’s what we want.”
Williams would know.
He has known the Rivers family since the mid-1990s, when he first played with Doc in New York.
Williams eventually played for Rivers in Orlando and their families have been friendly ever since.
In other words, Williams was already familiar with Austin as this year’s draft approached. In fact, he had an extremely advanced scouting report on the now former Duke standout.
“Doc talked to me about Austin when he was in the 7th or 8th grade,” Williams said. “He would always say, ‘Monty, he has a chance.’ He never said he was going to make it to the NBA, but he would just say, ‘Monty, he has a chance.’ And I was like, ‘Really? Austin?’ ”
More than six years later, both Williams and Doc Rivers have their answer.
And Austin Rivers sees himself being able to fulfill a role that’s less bit and more full. He believes he’s similar to Oklahoma City’s Russell Westbrook, San Antonio’s Tony Parker or Chicago’s Derrick Rose.
At least, those are players he hopes to be compared to one day.
“Just attacking point guards,” Rivers said. “You look at Russell, he’s getting better and better at learning how to get everybody else involved.”
Rivers was a third-team All-American as selected by the coaches, leading Duke with 15.5 points per game. He ranks in the top five in seven different freshman categories at Duke, including points (third), points per game (third), free throws and attempts (first) as well as 20-point games (fifth).
Now he’s looking forward to playing alongside Davis, the AP Player of the Year and athletic 6-10 defensive nightmare for opponents.
It’s not Davis’ defensive prowess that’s making Rivers already excited for July rookie league in Las Vegas.
“I’ve been thinking about it all the time,” Rivers said when asked about the pick-and-roll possibilities with Davis. “It makes my job so much easier. I can throw the ball basically anywhere and those long arms can go and catch it and dunk it. It’s going to be cool.”