One of the under reported story lines with the Warriors is the importance of Shaun Livingston. The ten year veteran is a great luxury for Golden State, once a can’t miss prospect whose career was derailed by one of the most horrific sports injuries ever. His injury happened a few months before he was about to sign a huge extension with the Clippers. He revitalized his career before coming to the Warriors however has found a home in the bay, as a key contributor to the bench mob.
In their recent win against the Thunder, Livingston had one of his best games of the season with 11 points, 8 assists and ZERO turnovers. As the clips will show what he brings to the Warriors and shows his importance to the team as they make a run at 73 wins and a second title.
Livingston provides a ball handler who can play in the post. Very few point guards have that ability and with his 6’7 frame he is able to put opposing defenses in a tough position. In the clip below he posts up the Thunder defender and is able to score on a fade away. With his height, very few defenders can affect the shot without fouling him.
Livingston does a great job of combining his post up ability with the vision that comes with skilled point guards. Add in his height and he is able to see over most defenders and able to make the right pass out of the post. The clip below is a great example as he finds a cutting Thompson, he even makes the pass a split second before Thompson is even open.
In addition to Livingston’s offensive skills, he is a versatile defender able to switch from point guards to small ball forwards. Below he uses his length to contest on Westbrook’s shot, as well as poke the ball away from Durant to start the fast break. He even gets a hockey assist as he finds Draymond who in turn finds Thompson for a dunk.
A great bench player for coach Kerr that gives him several different options. The Warriors have the ability to play Livingston at point as Curry and Thompson run off multiple screens to get open for shots. The five-man lineup with Curry, Bogut, Green, Thompson and Livingston has the 3rd highest point differential for the Warriors at a plus 42.3. This lineup takes the ball handling pressure off of Curry and allows him to rest a little off the ball as well.
Very few teams have a high quality backup point guard option let alone one that is 6’7 and extremely long. Livingston’s ability to make plays in the post and defend several positions is a critical and unsung component to the Warriors’ success. His contributions will not always show up in the stat sheet. However Livingston is one of those players whose importance cannot be measured by the box score but by the intangibles he brings to the Warriors.