By Panos Katsiroumpas/ email@example.com
After several days but also several names that have been paraded, the greens completed a great signing with the acquisition of K. C. Rivers. He’s a player who can contribute a lot on both ends of the court, especially in defense where he can mark opponents playing in positions from 1 through 3 with the same ease. Aside form this, Rivers is a player who can contribute in offense as well, of course in a certain style of game.
Overall, he’s a player who’s going to offer a lot, since he fits the profile of players coach Pedoulakis likes. His usefulness is not disputed, and anyway, the fact that Real acquired him in mid-season to try to fix the wrongs of the Queen’s defense is no coincidence. Also, let’s not forget his decisive contribution in the Final Four in Madrid, with the very good defenses on Spanoulis, but also the big shots in the semifinal against Fenerbahce that played a key role in Real’s return to the top of Europe. But let’s get to know him a bit better.
Rivers was a member of a good university program, that of Clemson, which from time to time has presented great college teams, always with players who had a very good knowledge of the sport’s basics and a multidimensional contribution on the court. He graduated in 2009, though without managing to get drafted, so the logical move was to cross the Atlantic and come to play basketball in Europe. He began his European journey from Treviso and Benetton, passed through France and Roanne, and later went back to Italy for Virtus Bologna. From there, he went on to Russia, first to Lokomotiv Kuban and then Khimki, where he had a pretty good year in the Euroleague, having a leading role in many games.
After Khimki, he spent a year in the NBDL as he didn’t manage to find a contract in the NBA, and went back to Europe for Real Madrid, a team he helped return to the throne of European basketball. Paradoxically, Real released him, for him to find a home in Bayern until Real called him back again in order to gain in defense and athleticism, areas in which they seriously lagged behind.
What he can offer
Rivers is certainly a player who, all told, is going to help Panathinaikos. He’s a very good defender, can mark any opponent from positions 1 through 3, while he presses hard on the ball. He has fast feet and explosiveness and this allows him to be very quick in offering help, in what’s called help and recover.
He has a very strong frame, something that doesn’t make him vulnerable when defending in the post, while when he defends on the ball he always stays in front of his opponent using his strength and his speed. He moves in the right way in team defense, having a good sense of space but also of where the ball is going to go, which results in him making many deflections or steals. Generally, in the part of defense it’s not easy to find weaknesses or situations in which he can’t respond.
He’s just as good in defensive transition as he is in offensive transition, a part in which he can contribute points for his team. On the offensive end we could say that he’s more of a role and rhythm player, rather than the player who will take things into his own hands when things get tough for his team. He shoots well after the ball has been circulated, has good percentages as a spot shooter (just under 40%), while he can also shoot over the spread hands of opponents as he has a good jump and timing in his shots.
He can strike on switching defenses by taking advantage of his good first step and reach the paint to finish plays, a side of his game that we saw mostly in Khimki and not Real Madrid. If there is one thing in which he lags, that’s the part of the individual play, something that, especially in Real, was totally absent from his repertoire.
Essentially, we never saw him go to an isolation game, while he also has to work on his shot after a dribble. Creatively, he didn’t have too many responsibilities in his prior teams and it’s interesting to see if he’s going to have an active role in this specific area in Panathinaikos.
In any case, he’s a player who will be able to contribute, in a position the greens had big issues last season, with Pavlovic and Giankovits not delivering what was expected. It will definitely be interesting to see what kind of responsibilities are going to be handed to him by the team and whether his role will have more in common with the more leading style of game that he had in Khimki or the style of the role player that he had in Real Madrid.