Warriors World Roundtable: Reaction to Shaun Livingston Signing
Thoughts on Livingston deal?
While some may gripe about the size of the contract, it is a strong signing for the Warriors. Primary ballhandlers are extremely important in today’s NBA, as we saw with a Spurs team that always plays one and usually two of them. Except for the one Jarrett Jack season, the Warriors have basically only had Curry his entire Warriors career and suffered the consequences of handing the keys to flawed distributors like Kent Bazemore and Acie Law. Capable primary ball-handlers are not cheap even if they do not start and Livingston’s less common skills make him even more useful for Golden State.
Good move. On the basketball side, Livingston addresses one of the Warriors bigger needs; a player capable of running the offense when Stephen Curry is off the floor. Livingston is also capable of playing with Curry, allowing him to play off ball for stretches without comprising defense. Being 6-foot-7 with a 6-foot-11 wingspan, Livingston is capable of guarding multiple positions and did so last year with positive results.
I like the Shaun Livingston signing, and really, it’s hard to hate on it from any perspective. Three years and $16 million — partially guaranteed — is about the going rate for a backup point-guard, and while Livingston isn’t a top tier backup he still can contribute in ways the Warriors needed and subsequently, didn’t have last season.
Steve Blake was hailed when he was acquired at the trade deadline, and we all saw how that worked out. Livingston, like Steve Blake, is an NBA journeyman: he’s played for nine teams in nine seasons. Blake’s journey was based more off lack of a fit than injury, and Livingston’s injury to this day is one of the worst I’ve ever seen in any sport.
Livingston will win some games for the Warriors next season, and with new head coach Steve Kerr applying his Spurs-ian ways into this rotation it’ll be interesting to see how he manages both the starters and bench unit. Mark Jackson’s hockey substitutions were simply a mess last season, and it turned Steve Blake into a spot-up shooter and failed to really utilize his passing skills and playmaking ability. This signing was a win for the Warriors, and while many in the Bay Area wanted Patty Mills, he’s now due for surgery on his right shoulder and will be out 4-7 months.
The Warriors needed a back-up point guard and Livingston fills that need. The Warriors had to use their mid-level exception on him, but the deal is relatively Warrior friendly. The third year is partially guaranteed, in case Livingston isn’t living up to his contract, it will be much easier for the Warriors to cut their losses.
The Warriors were rumored to be interest in other point guards like Isaiah Thomas, but the Warriors had very little money to work with. Livingston is coming off a season in which he saw a lot of time on the floor in Deron Williams’ absence and was able to show he can be a very productive player. After spending the last several years with multiple teams, Livingston is finally rewarded with a multi-year deal. Livingston has been working hard after he suffered that horrific injury and now he gets an opportunity to be an important role player on one of the best teams in the league.
What role do you see him playing in GS?
His primary role should be playing whenever Stephen Curry sits. The Warriors’ offense tanked whenever the Baby-Faced Assassin sat, partially because of his greatness and partially because they had no one else that could run an offense effectively. The addition of Livingston should smooth over the rough patches from last season and help out whoever comes off the bench for the team.
The other huge benefit of Livingston and why I have wanted him on the Warriors for years is that he can play with Stephen Curry for stretches, especially if the team can get three point shooting from a Power Forward (*cough*). Livingston can be a strong defender at the point of attack and allow Steve Kerr to use him similarly to how Mark Jackson deployed Klay Thompson to lessen Curry’s defensive workload.
First guard off the bench. Last season, Livingston started the season as Deron Williams backup. After the Brooklyn Nets horrible start, Jason Kidd inserted Livingston into the starting lineup next to Deron Williams and was a huge catalyst in the Nets eventually turning it around and making the playoffs. Livingston’s insertion in the lineup improved both the nets offense and defense.
His size allows him to guard 1 thru 3s, so the Warriors gain more lineup versatility. Expect to see lineups with him at PG running a primary 2nd unit or lineups with both Curry and Klay like in 2012/13 with Jarrett Jack. Livingston will likely play 20-25 minutes per game for the Warriors.
Livingston now slides into the backup PG role, a role the Warriors have been struggling with ever since the departure of Jarrett Jack. Jack has now become a folk hero of sorts, as it seems every attempt at replacing Jack can’t seem to shake off his shadow. He’s become the gold standard after his accomplishments in his only season with the Warriors, and it might’ve been just slightly ambitious of the team to think Kent Bazemore, Toney Douglas, Steve Blake or Jordan Crawford could handle those duties.
Livingston can slash, finishing at the basket with force and draw fouls when need be. The Warriors sorely need this type of player, as Blake never finished at the rim and Curry (for obvious reasons) still opts to shoot or pass to an open teammate instead of attempting to get fouled or finish strong. He’s 6’7, carried incredible length and isn’t slow, which translates into a better than decent defender and optimum size to complement the smaller Curry. He can handle, but his ability to run an offense for extended minutes has yet to be proven.
He also only attempted six, that’s right, SIX threes last season. Curry attempted that many in certain quarters. He won’t be asked to shoot the team out of trouble or “splash,” but he can manage a game for some minutes with Curry out and even play alongside the All-Star if Kerr wants to go that route. Unlike a Patty Mills, Mo Williams or Kirk Hinrich, this move gives Kerr some options, and in his new pseudo Triangle-based system the possibilities are endless.
One of the main reasons I believe the Warriors really liked Livingston was his ability to play multiple positions. At 6-foot-7, Livingston can guard multiple positions, from the point guard to the small forward. Livingston did a formidable job against LeBron James last season and he will be able to bring that defensive tenacity to Golden State next year.
He will average between 22-25 minutes per game and will get shifted to different positions constantly. He is going to be a reliable option for Steve Kerr and hopefully he is able to continue improving throughout the season. Livingston will have two splash brothers on the wings to get some easy assists and with the focus on Klay Thompson and Curry, Livingston will have plenty of room to work with.
Which player on the WS benefits most from this move?
Stephen Curry. If we knew exactly who was a part of the second unit, I could be persuaded to say someone like Harrison Barnes or Draymond Green because they will actually be playing with a competent guy running the show but we do not right now. As such, it goes to Curry because the combination of Livingston and Thompson means that Curry will be able to defend the other team’s least dangerous guard whenever he plays. Additionally, having a second player to run the offense that the coaches will trust should make Coach Kerr less reliant on playing Curry huge minutes in high-leverage games and situations. That should keep the team’s best player more fresh when April rolls around.
The splash brothers will always benefit from another good passer capable of finding either of them running off screens. However the player who struggled most from playing without a strong PG was Harrison Barnes. Last year, Barnes never had the benefit of a consistent passer in the second unit. The struggles of being called on to score out of largely isolation situations were pronounced. As a strong ball handler and passer, Livingston will allow Barnes to move off ball and be found in situations he’s more comfortable in, such as slashing to the rim or spotting up in the corners.
This move benefits Stephen Curry the most, clearly. He’s been sorely missing a dependable, consistent backup since Jack left, and it must’ve been extremely painful to watch the likes of Bazemore, Douglas, Blake and Crawford attempt to run this offense as he sits. Curry can play more off the ball when he feels like it as Livingston can share handling duties when both are in, and Livingston can also spell Curry from the more elite offensive players a la Klay Thompson, though not to the defensive prowess of that level.
Livingston and Thompson are both 6’7, but the former actually carries a longer wingspan (6’11) than Thompson (6’9). There’s no doubt the Warriors are better with Curry handling, and Livingston’s length and size can help with this goal. Hockey substitutions (hopefully) will be gone, and Kerr will install some semblance of a rotation based off matchups. This will help the bench just by itself, but installing high IQ players like Livingston into this system will only benefit the rest of the team in addition to Curry.
With Livingston on board, Curry will benefit the most next season. The Warriors had been looking for a back up point guard to compliment Curry, but failed to do so last season. They traded for Steve Blake, but that didn’t work out.
Now, Curry will have another ball handler he can rely on. Not only will Livingston fill in nicely while he takes a breather, but both of them on the floor together should work well. It will allow Curry to get a good look without having the ball and worrying about getting his teammates involved.
Livingston will create matchup problems for the opposition, in any case Livingston could guard who ever Curry was slated to defend and take that pressure off Curry. Livingston will be asked to handle tough defensive assignments, but he has the size, length, and athleticism to play well defensively.