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Austin Rivers retreats from saying he's 'straight up better' than Olympic hopefuls

Austin Rivers retreats from saying he's 'straight up better' than Olympic hopefuls
Clippers guard Austin Rivers celebrates after scoring against the Houston Rockets during a Western Conference playoff game on May 8. (Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)

Austin Rivers is one confident guy.

The Clippers guard who would be generously considered an average NBA player for much of his first three professional seasons tweeted Friday that he was “straight up better than a lot of these dudes playing last night” in the USA Basketball Showcase at the Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas.

While the rosters were considerably thinned of the game’s biggest stars, with LeBron James, Kevin Durant and Stephen Curry among the 20 players who opted not to participate, there were still five or six potential Olympians who did play, including Blake Griffin, Rivers’ teammate with the Clippers.

Perhaps feeling some heat after his message was retweeted more than 1,000 times, Rivers backtracked from his comment, tweeting later that "EVERY player there last night was WELL deserved. As a competitor I just feel like I should be out there."

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When someone asked Rivers whom he thought he was better than on Team USA, he responded, "Didn't really mean it that way...I worded it wrong...it was just me being competitive and wanting to be out there."

Rivers, who has career averages of 7.0 points, 2.1 assists and 1.9 rebounds per game, also tweeted that he wanted to become the NBA's most improved player next season after a handful of breakthrough performances in the playoffs. He added that he had reached only "like 20%" of his goals as an NBA player.

In a series of question-and-answer tweets, Rivers wrote that he was working on his mid-range game "to make the defender pay for going under at times" as well as his three-point accuracy and upper-body strength. Rivers is known for aggressively attacking the basket, so a more reliable jumper would make him harder to defend.

Rivers, who turned 23 earlier this month, also called Oklahoma City’s Russell Westbrook probably the hardest player to guard and said Kyrie Irving was the best ballhandler.

Follow Ben Bolch on Twitter @latbbolch

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