Shaun Livingston has had quite the interesting career. Lately, he’s been an integral part of the Golden State Warriors’ bench: even at age 32, he was a consistent presence as a reliable ball handler, smart defender, and mid-range scorer during the 2018 playoffs.
It wasn’t always this way. A highly-touted point guard prospect in his youth, Livingston’s career changed with one unlucky fall.
i am so thankful that Shaun Livingston:— Rodger Sherman (@rodger_sherman) May 21, 2018
—kept his leg
—is able to walk
—is able to play basketball
—is able to play basketball competitively
—is able to play basketball effectively for one of the best teams of all time
But he’s back. It took him years to return from one of the worst injuries in basketball history, but he did it, and became a three-time champion.
Livingston is certainly an unusual player: he’s a 6-foot-7 point guard with the length to guard small forwards and has the quickness and footwork to keep defenders guessing. He rarely turns the ball over and is smart with his passes and cuts. Unlike many other guards nowadays, he refuses to shoot threes, but has found his home in the mid-range, showing great prowess on pull-up and fadeaway jumpers over smaller guards.
Because of his age and injury history, the Warriors played Livingston fewer minutes this season than in years past. He averaged 5.5 points, 2.0 rebounds, and 1.8 assists per game, around the same totals as last year, though his efficiency was down. Regardless, the raw numbers don’t show the impact Livingston had on the Warriors on a night-to-night basis.
The Warriors had problems with depth at the guard and wing positions all year, and these problems manifested most frighteningly in the playoffs. Patrick McCaw missed almost all of the playoffs, while Andre Iguodala missed some of the most important games during the Rockets and Cavaliers series. Nick Young was extremely unreliable.
But Livingston consistently gave good minutes, rarely making mistakes on either end while increasing both his scoring volume and efficiency in the playoffs. He replaced Iguodala in the Death Lineup to great success in the few minutes Kerr decided to play him with the four All-Stars. Against the Cleveland Cavaliers, his 13-for-15 shooting over the course of the four-game series was remarkable.
Livingston has one more year guaranteed on his contract and another that is partially guaranteed. His athleticism won’t last forever, so next year might be his last as a Warrior. But for the last four years, he’s given the Warriors everything they could have asked for.
“I was very fortunate that I was able to sign with them,” Livingston said in a recent interview with The Athletic, which included his response to the notion that the Warriors are somehow ruining the NBA. “I’m still very fortunate to play in the organization and to play with great players, a great coach, a great coaching staff and to live in the Bay Area. I’m living the dream.”
He’s a humble guy, perfect teammate, and solid fit with the rest of the Warriors’ stars. After a decade searching for his place in the league, he’s found his special niche on the best team in history.
How would you grade Shaun Livingston’s 2017-18 season?
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