Shaun Livingston an Ace in the Hole for Golden State Warriors


In the summer of 2014, Shaun Livingston had plenty of suitors as a free agent. His best season as a pro was as a member of the Brooklyn Nets, where he averaged 8.3 PPG and 3.2 APG coming off of the bench. Many thought the versatile Livingston would end up on a team that would use him in a starting point guard role. It didn’t quite work out that way though.

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The Golden State Warriors surprised many when they signed him early this past summer to be a complementary piece to the Splash Brothers — Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson. Coming in, many Warriors fans expected immediate production from Livingston. They expected him to be a scorer, defender, and distributor though his role was to come off the bench. And for the first half of the season, many Warriors fans were extremely disappointed with Livingston’s production. Or lack thereof.

While he usually performed pretty well on the defensive end of the court, his offensive game had been lacking for the most part. To this point in the season — fifty eight games in — he’s averaged just 5.6 PPG and 3.0 APG.

Mar 4, 2015; Oakland, CA, USA; Golden State Warriors guard

Stephen Curry

(30) fouls Milwaukee Bucks guard

Michael Carter-Williams

(5) with Golden State Warriors guard

Shaun Livingston

(34) during the fourth quarter at Oracle Arena. The Golden State Warriors defeated the Milwaukee Bucks 102-93. Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

He hasn’t been terrible, but Livingston really hadn’t established himself in a game. Not until now.

In the Warriors most recent game against the Milwaukee Bucks, Livingston played 27 minutes and made the most of every one of them.

He scored 16 points and tallied 6 assists. Livingston was all over the place, throwing down nasty dunks, and harassing the Bucks perimeter players all game long. It was the kind of performance and impact most Warriors fans expected from Livingston from the start.

The nine year veteran has bounced around the league, playing for nine different teams over his career. But it seems that landing with Golden State was the best thing for him, and happened at exactly the right time for Livingston. And now he’s stepping on the gas pedal.

With the playoffs looming for the Warriors, Livingston’s help seems more and more important. The NBA season is long and arduous for teams in the loaded Western Conference. In the playoffs, you’re just as likely to face Oklahoma City as you are San Antonio in the first round. And neither matchup is particularly appealing. Especially considering the fact that in years past, the San Antonio Spurs have rested guys like Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, and Manu Ginobili, yet have still managed to lock up the top seeding in the West.

There’s nothing like a well rested Spurs team staring you down in the first round of the playoffs. The Warriors are battling for that top seed in the West, but it’s clear that if they want to secure it, they are going to have a real dogfight on their hands.

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  • Livingston’s length and versatility as a lockdown perimeter defender, and playmaker make him a great asset to team bound for the playoffs like the Warriors. If he can really hit his stride coming off the bench during the playoffs, as he’ll likely be tasked with guarding MVP candidates like Russell Westbrook, James Harden, and many other offensive juggernauts in the Western Conference.

    If Livingston can produce like he did against the Bucks, whether it be driving into the paint and kicking it out, taking it strong to the basket, or playing a potent pick and pop game with Mo Speights, the Warriors would obviously be a much better team than they’ve already been this season.

    Additionally, if Livingston were able to continue playing at a high level, Steve Kerr would have the flexibility to rest Klay Thompson and Stephen Curry a little bit. That bit of extra rest would undoubtedly go a long way in the brutally difficult Western Conference, and would allow the shooters to be fully rested come playoff time.

    It also doesn’t hurt to have great production coming off the bench during a long playoff run, and Livingston certainly has the capability to do all that in the last few months of the season and perhaps beyond.

    Next: Five Moves That Helped Make the Warriors Dominant