Last season, Golden State Warriors went through a plethora of reserves, trying to find a player capable of running the second unit.
They worked through Toney Douglas, Kent Bazemore, Jordan Crawford and Steve Blake and failed with all four players. None of those players played convincingly enough for the front office to keep around.
The turnover rate in players is a major concern that the Warriors had to answer, and they wasted no time on fixing the problem.
On the first day of free agency, the Warriors addressed this issue and went out and inked a proficient ball handler. General Manager Bob Meyers made a huge splash by signing nine-year veteran point guard Shaun Livingston. Livingston’s career averages may not be all that impressive (7.0 points and 3.4 assists), but he might be what the Warriors need to put them over the top.
The biggest asset that Livingston provides for the Warriors is his playmaking abilities, which was a huge hole in the second unit. He is a very skilled ball handler who can create open looks not only for himself but also his teammates. Livingston always has his head on a swivel and can pass the ball with a high velocity and accuracy. He can zip the ball across the court and place it wherever the receiver needs it.
This passing ability is a major upgrade and can open up many things for the second unit, especially Harrison Barnes. This past season from Barnes was a prime example of the “Sophomore Slump”. Without a solid commander in the second unit, he struggled with creating his own shots and keeping a handle on the ball. Now, with Livingston on board, he can put all of his efforts into moving off the ball for open opportunities. Fans can now truly see what Barnes can offer to this team.
Along with the ball handling skills, Livingston is also a consistent and versatile scorer. He efficiently shoots at career average of 46.6 percent from the field. He can shoot off the dribble and has a nice mid-range jumper.
Most of his scoring comes from grinding it out in the paint against smaller opponents. Standing at six feet, seven inches, Livingston has an advantage that allows him to feast on smaller guards. He also is capable of scoring over bigger guards as well. With his high release on his jump shot, it makes it hard for defenders to contest.
Another part of Livingston’s scoring arsenal is his knack of penetrating to the rim. Although he has a very slim frame, he can fearlessly attack the basket when given an opportunity. He is not afraid of contact or any rim protectors. Just ask Robin Lopez:
Given all the skills that Livingston packs, none of them are more important that the intangibles he offers to this team. Livingston is an ambitious player who is working every single day to get better. After tearing his ACL in 2007, many believed his career was over. His chances of playing in the league became slim for that he bounced in and out of the NBA. He was a journeyman who played on nine different teams in his nine seasons with the association. He was traded, waived, cut, and demoted to the D-League.
However, with persistence, hunger, and desire, Livingston had a breakout season last year with the Brooklyn Nets, which revived his career. He has finally found stability, signing a three-year contract with the Warriors.
His passion for the game of basketball is inspiring for his new teammates and the fans of the Warriors. Attaining Livingston and giving him the role to command the second unit is a colossal leap toward title contention.