Originally posted on Pro Sports Daily  |  Last updated 9/17/13
As the New Orleans Pelicans prepare to open training camp Oct. 1 guard Austin Rivers is already brimming with confidence. Rivers said he has worked intensely to improve his overall game since July when he led the Pelicans' summer league team with a 18.2 scoring average. Although the Pelicans significantly improved their backcourt this summer with the additions of Jrue Holiday and Tyreke Evans Rivers said he's eager for the intense competition to begin. "I can't wait for the year to start because this is the best that I've ever felt and it's showing when I'm playing'' said Rivers who made only 37.2 percent of his shots last season as a rookie and averaged 6.2 points and 2.1 assists. "Mentally I have 100 percent confidence right now where last year I was trying to figure things out. So now when that ball tips off I'm just thinking about winning playing and having fun.'' Rivers the 10th overall pick in the 2012 NBA draft out of Duke struggled through the opening half of last season. He showed some improvement after the All-Star break but missed the final 23 games after suffering a fractured right hand in March. In effort to get physically and mentally prepared for the upcoming 82-game regular-season schedule the 6-foot-4 200-pound Rivers has stayed busy. After summer league play ended Rivers said he went home to Winter Park Fla. and continued to work to improve his shooting. He made 48.6 percent of his shots in summer league. He also has participated in the Pelicans' volunteer workouts since mid-August working on conditioning drills on the Saints' practice fields weightlifting and playing intense pick-up games against teammates. "It's been a nonstop grind since summer league'' Rivers said. "The work has just been a nonstop process and it's paying. I feel like every week I'm getting better and better." Rivers is hoping for carryover from summer league to training camp. In the Las Vegas summer league Rivers made mid-range shots and beat defenders off the dribble. He also appeared to play with an edge that wasn’t noticeable last season when he often appeared overmatched and not athletic enough to attack the rim.
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