Sports Out West

Warriors free agency: Shaun Livingston is the right fit for GSW

Denver Nuggets v Brooklyn Nets

Former Brooklyn Nets guard Shaun Livingston reached an agreement with the Golden State Warriors for a 3-year deal in what was one of the biggest moves of the offseason and a huge upgrade for the Warriors.

Golden State has been aware of the necessity of a solid, reliable point guard to support Stephen Curry off the bench and made moves last season to try to fill this need. Adding Toney Douglas, Steve Blake, and Jordan Crawford all turned out to be failed experiments. Crawford was the closest to showing promise as a backup, but his iso-tendencies and inability to create for others did little to enhance the Warriors’ offense.

But there’s reason to be optimistic about Livingston.

Entering the season, Livingston was relatively under the radar, but his emergence as an effective point guard for the Nets earned him increased playing time and a total of 54 starts during the season. One of the reasons that he experienced this resurgence and will be such a valuable addition to the Warriors is his ability to create for others.

Despite his slender 6-foot-7 frame, the former Los Angeles Clippers first-round draftee has the playmaking abilities of a true point guard. He creates for others and is effective in distributing the ball, an attribute that will fit well with the ball-movement-centric philosophies that head coach Steve Kerr has already alluded to.

A positive consequence of this is that it will take some of the load off of Curry. Tasked with being the primary ball-handler and primary offensive option can be tiresome for even player of Curry’s caliber. Having someone to distribute the playmaking duties to will take pressure off of him, and also allow him to play off the ball.

Livingston’s passing abilities coupled with the long-range shooting of Curry and Klay Thompson could be devastating.

Plenty of upside

Livingston’s impact on the defensive end will be just as significant. His size allows him to defend multiple positions and he’s proven to be a more than capable defender. What this means is that Curry has another backcourt mate that can compensate for his unremarkable defense. What this also means is that Thompson-Livingston lineups (with Livingston potentially playing point guard but defending the opposing team’s shooting guard) could cause trouble for opposing backcourts. Thompson has developed the quickness to defend most point-guards and Livingston has the size and skills to guard shooting guards in the league, which could make the duo work well together.

Of course, as with any prospective addition to a roster, there are concerns. The two most commonly referenced critiques of Livingston are his injury-plagued past and his inability to shoot from the perimeter. These are both valid concerns, though the latter is arguably less significant as Livingston is designated as more of a facilitator and slasher.

But with all the upside that comes with Livingston, it’s worth the risk.

Photo Credit: Getty Images

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Kapil Kashyap

Kapil Kashyap is a Bay Area native and an expert on all things NBA. For more insight, be sure to follow him on Twitter.

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