Knicks’ HC Tom Thibodeau did something very interesting with Austin Rivers

New York Knicks, Austin Rivers
Jan 2, 2021; Indianapolis, Indiana, USA; Indiana Pacers guard Victor Oladipo (4) and New York Knicks guard Austin Rivers (8) go for a loose ball in the fourth quarter at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. Mandatory Credit: Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Knicks have had a very interesting start to the 2021 season, winning 50% of their games. After losing their first two, the Knicks have battled back, winning three of their last four. Their most recent victory came against the Indiana Pacers, who they barely edged out thanks to a 25 point performance from RJ Barrett.

The youngsters on the team have proved to be productive but inconsistent. The one constant factor has been power forward Julius Randle, who posted 12 points and 11 rebounds in the win. Don’t forget about his eight assists, taking on a passing role to open up shots for his teammates.

However, one new addition has made an early impact for the Knicks, and his name is Austin Rivers. Despite missing a majority of training camp, Rivers logged 17 minutes against the Pacers this past week, totaling 15 points and shooting 50% from being on the arc, connecting on three.

Interestingly, Rivers has simply just played basketball, despite not knowing the majority of the scheme that Thibodeau is trying to implement.

“[Thibodeau] just tells me to go play, because he knows I don’t have any familiarity with anything yet in terms of the team and the sets,” Rivers said. “He did a great job of walking me through it, being patient with me. I’m still learning. It sucks I didn’t get any practices either. I haven’t practiced with the team yet at all. So I really kind of just came into this. But the easiest thing to do sometimes is just play. You don’t have to worry about the plays, this or that, just go play.”

The New York Knicks trust Rivers to go out and play ball:

Rivers has the basketball IQ to make an impact without fully knowing the process. He’s mostly been coming off the bench, but he’s putting together some solid performances and point production to start the year in New York.

“Each game, I’m getting more and more familiar with everything,” Rivers said. “In terms of basketball-wise, I’m fine. I’ll go out there and do what I do and be aggressive and try to help the team in any area I can and just build. We’re just building, man, so this is just the start. We [have] got a lot of work to do.”

Ultimately, the Knicks are on a grueling road trip, playing four games in seven days and traveling in-between. They will wrap up the journey against the Atlanta Hawks before heading back to New York on Tuesday, which will finally offer Rivers a chance to catch up with his team and begin to cement a role.