Timberwolves Austin Rivers has gone cold as season heats up

(Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)
(Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images) /

The Minnesota Timberwolves needed perimeter shooting for the month of December 2022, and veteran shooting guard Austin Rivers stepped up and delivered for the team. In that month, he shot 46.5 percent from beyond the arc, lifting his average scoring per game from 4.3 points to 7.3 points per game. Ah, if only the season was built upon December 2022.

Since that month, the calendar has flipped to a new year, and apparently a new style for Austin Rivers. His perimeter shooting has cooled off to just 31.6 percent in the past two months, and as a result, his scoring output has fallen, as has his average playing time. In the past six games, the veteran is averaging just 3.3 points per game, while still averaging 16.3 minutes per game.

He’s a veteran, and this is the time when veterans push their teams for an NBA Playoffs push. But instead of gearing down, Austin Rivers’ clutch is slipping and he’s just grinding his gears. And the Timberwolves, in need of a veteran stepping up, are getting a slow fade out of Rivers.

This is not the time for that from veteran players.

When the Minnesota Timberwolves assembled their 2022-23 roster, there was plenty of offense and scoring. And the team added two veterans in Bryn Forbes and Austin Rivers who were believed to be the extra ‘oomph’ that the team needed in terms of perimeter shooting that would have kept the Timberwolves on track with adding a healthy if not impressive about of buckets.

But the team never followed that script.

Murphy’s law vs Minnesota Timberwolves

Instead, one of the team’s top scorers, Karl-Anthony Towns, was injured after just 21 games. Backup point guard Jordan McLaughlin soon followed, unable to play for several months. Finally, we learned that PG D’Angelo Russell was less than inviting to teammate C Rudy Gobert, and was finally traded away for a true NBA point guard.

The team’s two veteran perimeter shooters, Bryn Forbes, and Austin Rivers, have not delivered. Forbes was released to make room for newly arrived SG Nickeil Alexander-Walker. But the Timberwolves may not have done enough either before or after the NBA Trade Deadline to improve the Minnesota Timberwolves’ chances.

At 31-32 and an ever-stiffening 2022-23 NBA schedule, the Timberwolves roster must realize that it’s now or never. Typically, this is the moment that a veteran takes over and pulls the team forward with the best play of his season. Unfortunately, don’t look for that veteran to be Austin Rivers. He’s happy just to fade away this season.

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