Do-it-all point guard offers different -- but needed -- component when he subs in for superstar Stephen Curry
POSTED: Feb 25, 2016 2:18 PM ET
Shaun Livingston has become a matchup nightmare for foes in his role as Stephen Curry's backup.
Every good NBA team boasts a dynamic scorer, a pure shooter and an elite defender. However, the truly great teams separate themselves by possessing a matchup nightmare on the roster. While the scouting report on the Golden State Warriors emphasizes the importance of slowing down Stephen Curry, his backup, Shaun Livingston, causes sleepless nights in his own right.
At 51-5, the Warriors have recorded the best 56-game start in league History. It is also a feat that may not have been accomplished without one the NBA's most experienced reserve units. Livingston is a key catalyst off the Warriors' bench and believes the team's deep and veteran bench gives Golden State an edge.
"You've got a starter on probably 29 other teams in Andre [Iguodala] and he could start for this team as well," said Livingston, a 10-year vetearn. "You've got the Finals MVP [in Iguodala] coming off your bench. That says something about your team. He sets the tone. Then myself, [Leandro] Barbosa, Mo Speights, we're all veterans where usually you're coming off the bench with younger guys or maybe a little bit more athletic guys where [instead] we're bringing more experience off the bench."
Shaun Livingston- Hometown Champ
Warriors guard Shaun Livingston returns home to Peoria, IL to share the glow of his championship win.
Both the experience and the effective play of the reserves are an integral part to the Warriors' success. Livingston represents the depth of the Warriors and the versatility of a title team that can attack its opponent from multiple angles. Sporting a mere 6.2 points per game average in 2015-16, Livingston's impact may not always be measured in the box score. Rather than scoring, Livingston helps the Warriors by using his 6-foot-7 frame to create mismatches, keep the offense flowing and get the best shot possible out of a possession.
"It's hard to keep the momentum up when you're coming in for the most efficient player in the league," Livingston said. "If I can extend the lead or hold the lead I feel like we did our part as far as the bench goes."
|2015-16 Effective FG% Leaders|
|Leaders through Feb. 25, 2016|
Many may view serving as the caddy for the reigning Kia MVP as an easy task, but Livingston isn't on the sideline holding a clip board. Once Curry sits down for a breather after destroying ankles and shooting 35-foot 3-pointers, opponents must then stop the lengthy Livingston from getting inside the paint and scoring at will. To date, Livingston is shooting a solid 53.3 percent and 88.9 percent from the free throw line, making him a great insurance plan (and change of pace) to Curry.
On Christmas Day, the Warriors hosted the Cleveland Cavaliers in a 2015 Finals rematch. Unlike in those Finals, though, the Cavs entered the game with a healthy roster. In a playoff-like game, the Warriors won 89-83 in large part because of Livingston's play. Curry had a pedestrian game by his standards (19 points, seven assists, 1-for-4 on 3-pointers), but Livingston contributed a then season-high 16 points (on 8-for-9 shooting) and scored eight fourth-quarter points (and rested for just 27 seconds that quarter, too).
Although Curry sets the tone with his 3-point shooting, Livingston serves as his polar opposite. Through 53 games this season, Livingston has attempted 12 3-pointers, while Curry has attempted 12 or more 3-pointers in 21 games this season. Yet, together, they form a guard tandem equivalent to a big play and bruising running back duo in football. Curry leads the NBA with 266 3-pointers and per NBA.com/Stats, Livingston leads all guards in shooting inside the restricted area.
|Leaders in FG pct. in restricted area (guards)|
|Leaders through Feb. 25, 2016|
When Livingston entered the NBA out of high school as the No. 4 pick in 2004, he was billed as the big point guard that would change the NBA game. As a rookie, he was tabbed as a nightly mismatch. A near career-ending injury and nine NBA teams later, he still embraces that title today.
"That was kind of my steelo coming into the league because of my height," Livingston said. "So I've always had the comparison of a matchup nightmare. I just want to try and take advantage of it each and every night."