There was a time when it looked like Shaun Livingston would never play basketball at a high level ever again. After a horrific knee injury towards the end of the 2006-07 NBA season, Livingston played in just 48 games over the next two seasons. In the seasons after that, he continued to look like a player whose injury had derailed his career. However, now the Golden State Warriors are looking for him to be a key part of their rotation this season.
At the end of the 2012-13 season, Livingston started to show signs of life again with the Cleveland Cavaliers. In his lone season with the Brooklyn Nets last year, that fully came to fruition as he developed into an above-average backup point guard and steady force for the veteran-laden team. As a result, teams were going to be clamoring to sign him in free agency, a bidding war which the Warriors won late Tuesday night.
ESPN first reported the news and the obvious reaction is that Golden State filled a position of need. They searched for much of last season to find a backup point guard to replace the loss of Jarrett Jack, but guys like Steve Blake, Toney Douglas and Jordan Crawford didn’t fully suffice. Now they have signed a player who produced wonderfully in the same role on a different team last season.
However, Livingston isn’t necessarily the commodity that solves the problem for the Warriors. Golden State’s system has thrived when they’ve had a point guard whocan be prolific offensively in their own right. It’s why guys like Jack succeeded and why Blake was the most successful venture for them last season. Those guys can hit consistently from long-range, which fits into the Warriors’ offense and keeps it running smoothly. It also allows them to play alongside Stephen Curry.
For all of Livingston’s talent and progress to get back to where he is, outside shooting isn’t his forte. He’s just a 20.4 percent shooter from three over his career. While he can create by getting to the rim, that’s not exactly a valuable asset when the team has players like Andrew Bogut and David Lee on the floor who predominantly play around the rim. Golden State is better served when their guys are spreading the floor around their big men more often than not, something Livingston isn’t incredibly deft at.
Things could certainly change for the Warriors’ system with the arrival of Steve Kerr that could make Livingston more of a commodity to them. Moreover, Livingston has the leadership and the chops to still be a quality backup point guard in this league. With what we’ve seen recently from Livingston and the Warriors, though, it just seems like a bad fit.