Realistic Expectations for Shaun Livingston’s 1st Season with the Warriors

Shaun Livingston is 28 years old and entering his 10th NBA season. By normal standards, this would place him squarely in his prime.

Livingston’s path has been anything but normal, however, and this makes it difficult to assess where he is along his career timeline.

The Los Angeles Clippers drafted Livingston No. 4 overall in 2004. The 18-year-old phenom was projected to be a franchise point guard due to his fluid athleticism, ridiculous length and tremendous ball handling, passing and court vision.

He was both tantalizing and disappointing during his first three seasons. He would show flashes of brilliance and potential, but also struggled to assert himself on the court as most superstars in the making do.

Then, a horrific knee injury derailed his career. He was hurt on Feb 26, 2007 and did not return until the beginning of the 2008-09 season. He appeared in only 12 games for two different teams that year, and 36 games for two teams the following year.

He finally regained a rotational role for the Charlotte Bobcats in 2010-11, but continued to bounce around even as his game and body returned to form. The Golden State Warriors will be Livingston’s 10th team in as many seasons.

While his lengthy catalog of injuries and NBA teams make Livingston look like an over-the-hill NBA veteran, there is also an argument that he is just now hitting his stride.

Despite being drafted in 2004, Livingston has only played in 466 games. A player with no injuries or DNPs reaches this number before completing their sixth season. That isn’t to say that Livingston doesn’t have mileage on him—almost every part of his left knee was decimated in that injury—but rather that he is still relatively inexperienced. 

One could argue that Livingston is actually less experienced than someone who plays their first 466 games within six seasons. He has only had consistent minutes in four of his 10 seasons, and has had to relearn how to play after his injury, making the first part of his career somewhat of a wash.

Last season was, in a certain way, Livingston’s first real season as an NBA player. He got hurt when he was 21, an age at which many players are still in college. Since then, his career has been about recovering and finding roster spots. Last year, the Brooklyn Nets gave him a big role, and he set career highs in games (76), starts (54) and minutes (1,974).

In Brooklyn, he also found a system that worked for him. Playing alongside other ball handlers and shooters allowed him to operate from the post, where he is as effective as any guard in the league. With Paul Pierce, Joe Johnson and Deron Williams drawing defensive attention and spreading the floor, Livingston was able to act as a point forward offensively.

The Warriors’ front office took note. They aggressively pursued Livingston early in free agency, realizing how perfectly he fit their roster and how many needs he simultaneously addressed.

There are many parallels between Golden State and Brooklyn.

Andre Iguodala, like Pierce, is a natural swingman who can play small-ball 4 due to his decent outside shot, great strength and defensive IQ. Klay Thompson can shoot off the dribble, from the high post or in a catch-and-shoot situation, much like Joe Johnson, and similarly struggles to score inside. Both have the size to play small-ball 3.

Curry is a far superior outside shooter to Williams, but both are threats from deep who can create with their dribble as well.

New Warriors coach Steve Kerr is attempting to implement a triangle-esque offense. While Jason Kidd did not run a triangle in Brooklyn, he did run similarly fluid-yet-deliberate half-court sets. Livingston’s smooth-yet-cerebral game should fit right in.

There’s more to the Livingston signing than how he complements Golden State’s starters, namely his ability to back them up.

He should make a very good third guard in Kerr’s rotation, as he can run the bench offense, run the point next to Thompson or spell Thompson at the 2.

That third role will be especially intriguing. Thompson and Curry are known as great partners due to their unreal shooting, but the biggest reason they fit together is Thompson’s defense. He will guard the more-dangerous player in an opposing backcourt, whether they are a 1 or a 2. Livingston, who is also 6’7″, is similarly versatile defensively.

With limited cap flexibility this summer, the Warriors were able to use their one real resource—the full mid-level exception—on a player who fits into virtually every type of lineup.

That malleability is not the only reason Livingston’s three-year, $16 million contract is a bargain, though. Since 2013-14 was Livingston’s first full NBA season, there’s also potential for dramatic improvement despite his age.

Let’s briefly fantasize about a best-case scenario.

After finally turning the page last season on his long journey back from his horrendous injury, Livingston begins to trust his body like he did when he was younger. He combines that with the mental toughness and confidence he’s gained through all his adversity, and becomes the best backup point guard in the NBA.

It doesn’t take much revising to turn that best-case scenario into a cautiously optimistic one. Say he just continues to build on the confidence that he regained last season; this would still be a career year for him.

Health permitting, he should keep trending upwards over the course of his contract. This means that by year three, the Warriors’ option to retain him for $5.3 million could be awfully useful.

Of course, health may not permit. Livingston is currently out as he recovers from toe surgery, and while he should be ready for opening day, he’ll still be playing on a surgically repaired left kneecap, ACL, MCL, PCL and meniscus.

That will remain a reality until the day he retires. For now, the Warriors hope that his unconventional career path leads to some delayed gratification.

 

 

Stats and contract figures courtesy of Basketball-Reference.com and HoopsHype.com.

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David Lee or Draymond Green: Who Should Be the Warriors’ Starting Power Forward?

As the Golden State Warriors roll closer to the start of training camp, a big question still remains with the new coach Steve Kerr’s offense, will David Lee or Draymond Green get the nod as the starting power forward?

The players play two contrasting styles: Lee is more an offensive juggernaut, while Green is the get-in-your-face, workmanlike player who can guard every position.  The decision will be a tough one to make, but let’s break down both of the players’ strengths and weaknesses before suggesting a game plan.

 

David Lee

David Lee has been known to put up big numbers throughout his career, but until 2012-13, the numbers were relatively meaningless, since he never made the playoffs.  Lee normally finishes with a double-double on most nights, and his season averages mostly prove the same (18.2 PPG, 9.3 RPG).

In 2012-13, Lee led the league in double-doubles (56), but this past season, Lee was only above average.  He finished further down the ladder in 17th place with only 34. 

Offense is in the forefront with Lee, since that is his best skill.  He is an adept passer, can hit mid-range jumpers and can score with either his left or right hand.

However, Lee is often criticized for his defense and his salary.  One is a killer on the micro level; the other hurts the Warriors on a macro level.

His defense has been an albatross, as Lee is mostly left behind when he encounters quick feet or dazzling moves.  He has tried to improve his limited skill set, and the effort is there, but the results are not always pleasing.

According to Bruce Jenkins from the San Francisco Chronicle, the pressure is on for Lee:

Lee will occasionally make a brilliant play on defense, but the normal result of an above-average play against him is a foul on Lee.  Lee averaged three fouls per game on the season, as he ranked tied for 21st overall and fifth for his position. 

As for Lee’s contract, he is crippling the Dubs from improving into a team that has NBA championship aspirations.  He makes $15 million this season and $15.5 million next season.

The one benefit that Golden State has going forward is that Lee will be a free agent in 2015-16, so he will be an expiring contract during next year’s free-agency period.

Kerr has to weigh the effect of Lee losing value if he sits Lee versus the overall effort he can provide on the court.  Lee needs to improve his range, as Kerr is looking for a stretch-4, and Lee did not impress based on his results last season.
 

Draymond Green

Green is a hard worker who is defensively instinctive and is not afraid of anyone, including LeBron James.

Green has improved significantly from his rookie year to his second year in the league.  He has looked a lot calmer with the ball and hasn’t been afraid to hit key shots at crucial times in the game.

Coach Kerr should like the fact that Green can stretch the floor more than Lee, as Green is known for hitting a clutch three-pointer more often than not.  The only problem is that Green is smaller than the average power forward, as he measures up at 6’7”.

Green also has a problem, because he really is just a forward or a tweener.  When the Warriors go small, he can easily play the power forward position, but with his size, Green is logically a small forward.

So, Green masquerades as a power forward and has a significantly deeper range than the starter at the 4 position.  Green shot 33.3 percent in 165 attempts from behind the arc last season.

As Green states in an interview with Dime Magazine, he will be looking to solidify that range in order to truly be a stretch-4.

However, Green’s focus is not entirely on the offensive end.  His line from last season was 6.2 PPG and 5.0 RPG in almost 22 minutes.

Green had a 97.7 defensive rating for this past season, ranking him fifth-best in the league.  It doesn’t matter where Green lines up, as he makes a significant impact on both sides of the court.

Green has a very high basketball IQ and succeeds with positioning, anticipation and the desire to outduel his opponent.  He is ready to battle it out in preseason and the regular season to get a starting gig.

 

Coach Steve Kerr’s Preliminary Thoughts

In a July 11 interview with KNBR 680 and as reported by the San Jose Mercury News’ Diamond Leung, Coach Kerr said that Lee looks like he will be starting:

I love David Lee, and I think he’s going to be our starter, and he’s going to score a lot and be our slasher and our interior scorer. But we need to complement that with some perimeter shooting from that spot, too.

The Mercury’s Leung further noted that Kerr, on August 7, stated Lee was in a very stable position going forward:

Klay Thompson and David Lee, who were players in trade talks involving Love, were named by Kerr as having “automatic” starting spots along with Stephen Curry and Andrew Bogut when a boy at the Warriors Basketball Camp at Tice Valley Community Gym asked the coach about the lineup.

Based on the preceding information, Kerr will look to have Lee as the starter going into the season.  However, Green should not look at the comments as a defeat, but as an opportunity to get quality playing time moving forward.

In the same interview with KNBR 680 and as reported by the Mercury’s Diamond Leung, Coach Kerr spoke about how he may use Green as a stretch-4.

You saw Draymond make five threes in Game 7 (of the playoff series against the Los Angeles Clippers), which is one of the reasons why the Warriors almost won that game. We need some shooting out of that position.

Green is more adept at shooting from the perimeter, and he can prove his skills to Kerr in camp and on the floor during the season.

 

The Best-Case Scenario

David Lee looks to be the starter going into the season, but he should consider the starting job in name only.  Lee will not be used in the key moments of the fourth quarter, and he probably will not be used when the Warriors need to spread the floor.

Lee primarily has the job, because he is one of co-owner Joe Lacob’s favorite players, he was the first real free agent to come aboard for the new ownership, and he puts up significant numbers.

Oh yeah, it doesn’t look good for the pocket book if Green is starting with a salary under $1 million over Lee and his $15 million annual salary.

Green will have a pivotal role on this team going forward, as he will be used in a variety of capacities.  Coach Kerr will rely on him to stretch the floor and will play him when he needs the team to get physical.

Early analysis from CBSSports.com on Green states that he is the “best forward prospect over Harrison Barnes.”  Green needs to use this momentum to his advantage and assimilate into Coach Kerr’s new system.

If Green can successfully master the system, he can increase his playing time whether at the small or power forward position.

As for Lee, he is getting closer to the end of his contract, and at age 31, he is probably in the final stage of the most productive years of his career.  In order to secure another substantial contract in Oakland or somewhere else, he needs to show his value this season.

Lee will get the starting gig, but Green will have the biggest impact of the two.  Green will be on the court in the final minutes and anywhere else Coach Kerr needs a stopper.

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Warriors’ Livingston out 6-8 weeks with toe injury

Warriors guard Shaun Livingston has surgery on right big toe, expected to be out 6-8 weeks

      
 

 

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Warriors’ Livingston out 6-8 weeks with toe injury (Yahoo Sports)

Golden State Warriors guard Shaun Livingston is expected to be out six to eight weeks after having arthroscopic surgery on the big toe of his right foot. The Warriors said Friday that Livingston’s toe will be in a splint for the first three weeks of his recovery. The team says the procedure was performed Wednesday by Dr. Richard Ferkel at the Southern California Orthopedic Institute in Van Nuys. Golden State signed Livingston to a three-year contract worth about $16 million in July.

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Shaun Livingston Injury: Updates on Warriors Guard’s Toe Surgery and Recovery

The Golden State Warriors received some unfortunate news Friday regarding newly signed guard Shaun Livingston. NBA.com’s official Twitter page provided the details:

Livingston is expected to be in a splint for about three weeks after the surgery before he gradually works his way back. The Warriors signed the guard to a three-year contract this offseason, so they clearly want him healthy before the season begins.

It is encouraging that he had the surgery when we are still more than two months away from the start of the regular season. Presuming there are no complications, we should see him take the floor on opening night with this timetable.

Livingston averaged 8.3 points, 3.2 assists and 3.2 rebounds a game last year for the Brooklyn Nets. He is not much of an outside shooter, but he is a versatile ball-handler who can fill in anywhere from point guard to small forward if needed. He is also a solid defender because of his length and quickness at 6’7″.

What’s more, Livingston will have no issues getting out in transition with Stephen Curry and company.

Of course, he has to get that toe healed before he does that.

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How Can Golden State Warriors Coach Steve Kerr Get the Most out of Andrew Bogut?

Andrew Bogut is a key piece for the Golden State Warriors continued rise up the NBA ladder, but Coach Steve Kerr needs to make sure to maximize Bogut’s skill set by getting him more involved in the game plan on offense.

The Aussie big man has had a huge impact on the Dubs since being traded from the Milwaukee Bucks in 2012, but he has not escaped the injury bug that has burdened most of his career. 

The rib injury at the end of the season forced him to miss the seven-game series versus the Los Angeles Clippers, as he could have been the missing piece to put the Warriors into the second round.

Bogut has provided the necessary defense that former coach Mark Jackson craved, but his offense didn’t evolve.  Bogut didn’t get the opportunities to show off his skills.

So how will Coach Kerr get the most out of Bogut?  He will need to make sure that Bogut impacts both sides of the court.

If It’s Not Broke, Don’t Fix It

Bogut plays with a fire inside, and he likes to show those tendencies on the defensive side of the floor.  Whether it is making a key block, ripping down a contested rebound or jumping out of bounds to save a ball, he likes to get his teammates and the crowd pumped up.

Bogut led the Warriors in rebounds per game with 10.0 last season, and he also led the team in blocks.  Besides from the statistics, he has also been a command center in the key.

Here is Bogut making a block against Gordon Hayward of the Utah Jazz.

He calls out formations as he sees them develop and positions teammates to give the Warriors a better defensive foundation.  He is also a buffer and last line of defense, in case an opponent drives by less gifted defenders like David Lee or Stephen Curry.

His defensive input was well-received around the league, as Bogut finished in 10th place in the Defensive Player of the Year vote. 

Since the proposed Kerr-style offense involves a lot of open space and transition, Bogut will have to make sure that he is in good shape to be significantly involved in the offense but have enough speed to get back into his defensive position.

He has done it before, as shown in this play against the New York Knicks when he was a member of the Bucks.

 

Where Is the Offense?

On the offensive side of the ball, Bogut has been relatively M.I.A. since joining the Dubs.  Former Coach Jackson did not utilize the big man’s skill set, and as a result, Bogut finished with career low PPG during the last two seasons (5.8 & 7.3).

Based on that information, one would probably concur that Bogut is not overly skilled offensively.  However, he is a slick passer and knows how to handle the ball well for a center.

Here is an example of Bogut’s skill in dribbling and passing the ball, as he leads the break.

Before joining the Dubs, Bogut put up some slick offensive numbers by averaging in double figures in his last six seasons with Milwaukee.  His most productive season was in 2009-2010 when he put up 15.9 points

In his days with the Bucks, Bogut used to have his go-to moves.  He would dominate the post and primarily use his left-handed jump hook.

 

The Triangle

Coach Kerr will employ an offense with many elements from the triangle, an offense used for three (of his five total) NBA titles with the Chicago Bulls under Coach Phil Jackson.  It is a game plan that is highly reliant on the offensive end.

Bogut will have to use all of his tools to acclimate himself to the new philosophy.  The key words associated with the new style are penetration, spacing, player movement, positioning and offensive rebounding.

The offense depends on the spacing of players usually between 15 to 20 feet apart, and it is more of a read and react style, instead of using defined plays.  The triangle should utilize Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson to put them in the best positions to score. 

Bogut will have to be able to use his passing ability to hit open targets in the two guards, but he will also need to find David Lee and Andre Iguodala in the lanes. 

However, he will need to penetrate in order to score and focus his attention on offensive boards.

He should make his point total rise with clean-up jobs like what he did with Curry this last season.

 

Work Still Needed

Besides getting in better physical condition and completing the rehabilitation of his previous injuries, Bogut still has one major flaw, free-throw shooting.

He has seen his percentages dip during the past four seasons, and as a result, teams have at times employed the hack-a-Bogut strategy.  Last season, Bogut only sunk 34.4 percent of his attempts at the charity stripe and was routinely pulled to avoid the futility.

He is a career 56.2 percent free-throw shooter, but he will need to take extra attempts in practice to fix the problem.  He also needs to find a new coach to improve his stroke.

Since the philosophy is so offensive-oriented, Bogut will get more chances at the line.  He should return to at least three attempts per game, which he achieved with the Bucks.

 

Bogut Projections

Bogut will become a more integral player in the Kerr’s new offense, but don’t expect him to post anywhere near the numbers of Curry or Thompson.  However, double figures in scoring is an obvious obtainable goal.

Coach Kerr will presumably use Bogut in the same manner that Phil Jackson used Luc Longley in Chicago, where Longley’s assist and points totals were at career highs during the Bulls second three-peat of the ’90s.

Bogut should increase his average to over 10 points per game, and his assist totals to over three per game (up from 1.7 last season), as the new offense should provide more opportunities for the big man to get the ball to Lee, Iguodala and the Splash Brothers.

The only major impediment to his success is the constant injury concern.  With the spacing of the new offense and a potentially less-congested key, Bogut could finish with 70-plus games played.

With the way his contract is structured, the new Kerr style could pay big dividends.   

He should also have a chance to show the same dominance in the playoffs that he did in the 2012-13 season.  An NBA title is still the number one goal, and Bogut is a necessity to get there.

 

 

 

 

 

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Updated Long-Term Plan for the Golden State Warriors

The Golden State Warriors stood firm in their beliefs this offseason and shunned Kevin Love in favor of Klay Thompson. They’ve gone all-in with their current roster not just for this season, but for the foreseeable future.

It won’t be all fun and games, however, as contract negotiations will soon be on the horizon. Serious dollars will have to be spent, and the Warriors will likely find themselves well over the salary cap if they want to keep the core of their team together.

The Warriors already have several key players under contract for the next few years, some on more cap-friendly deals than others. Stephen Curry represents one of the biggest bargains in all of the NBA, as he’s set to bring in around $10.5 million this coming year. He’s signed through the 2016-17 season.

That’s where the bargains end, however.

David Lee is on the books for over $15 million per year over the next two seasons. He’ll have to ensure that his offense is enough to justify that amount of money since his defense is nonexistent.

Like Curry, Andre Iguodala is signed through the 2016-17 season, and he’ll bring in right around the same money, just under $12 million a year. At 30 years old, Iguodala is right in the middle of his prime, but he’ll have to improve on an uncharacteristically down season.

Andrew Bogut is the biggest question mark of the bunch. When he plays, he’s well worth the $12 million the Warriors are paying him each season. Unfortunately, he’s rarely healthy these days and finds himself collecting checks from the bench. His ability to stay on the court is as vital as anything the Warriors will do in the future.

Regardless of how they play, those guys aren’t going anywhere anytime soon. It’s the young trio of Thompson, Harrison Barnes and Draymond Green that promises to shake things up.

Thompson is the reason that Kevin Love is not currently wearing a Warriors jersey. From head coach Steve Kerr to adviser Jerry West, Thompson has the complete backing of the front office. Based on the improvements he’s made each season, he seems likely to reward their faith.

He’s also likely to demand a maximum contract in the very near future. Even with the salary cap set to rise by 7.5 percent to $63 million, the Warriors must be prepared to pay the luxury tax for the next few seasons. The Warriors and Thompson will likely agree to an extension at the end of the next campaign, and once that money kicks in, it will likely mean the end of the Harrison Barnes experiment.

Barnes is set to bring in nearly $4 million next season, but after that, the Warriors will have a club option to bring him back for the next two. If the Warriors give Thompson the extension he desires, it’s very likely that they would let Barnes go. If Barnes underperforms again, letting him walk becomes easy.

If he finally realizes his potential, however, that would mean he likely priced his way out of Golden State. The Warriors would be able to pick up his option for one season, but after that, it’s sayonara.

The only scenario in which Barnes could remain on the squad would be if the Warriors were able to find a trade partner willing to take on one of their large contracts. But with Lee being severely overpaid, Bogut being injury prone and Iguodala showing flashes of inconsistency, the likelihood of a trade is slim.

Fortunately for the Warriors, the blow of losing Barnes would be significantly softened should they be able to retain Draymond Green. Green will make under $1 million this season but will be eligible for a $1.5 million qualifying offer from the Warriors for the 2015-16 season.

Expect the Warriors to pull the trigger on that one and for Green to promptly turn it down. He’ll be worth much more than that. The Warriors would be wise to work on an extension with Green sooner rather than later to save themselves the headache of having to match whatever offer is on the table.

Obviously, we can’t know for certain where the Warriors are headed, but what we do know is that they are committed to winning and willing to spend to get there. Owner Joe Lacob said as much in an interview with Sean Deveney of Sporting News:

I don’t want to pay the luxury tax, nobody wants to. That’s why it is a luxury tax, it is very punitive. But if it means winning vs. not winning, I choose winning. So that’s not an issue. At the end of the day, all the things we are talking about are important, but the fans care about one thing: Are you winning? Not the luxury tax. If I am not here to win, then I shouldn’t be here. We need to win.

The next two years will be crucial to determining where the Warriors are headed in the long term. The current group needs to show that they’re worth investing in. If they do, the front office will have no choice but to open up the pocketbooks. 

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Warriors announce coach Steve Kerr’s staff (Yahoo Sports)

OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — The Golden State Warriors have hired Alvin Gentry, Ron Adams, Luke Walton, Jarron Collins and Bruce Fraser to join new coach Steve Kerr’s staff.

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Shaun Livingston Finally Gives Golden State Warriors Exactly What They Need

It wasn’t a Kevin Love trade, and it may not be a precursor to one, but landing Shaun Livingston was a huge step in the right direction for the Golden State Warriors.

According to ESPN.com’s Marc Stein, “Sources close to the process told ESPN.com that Livingston and the Warriors have struck a deal that will pay him the league’s full mid-level exception for the next three seasons, which is valued at an estimated $16 million.”

General manager Bob Myers and Livingston apparently saw eye to eye on more than money alone.

Per Stein, Livingston told ESPN The Magazine‘s Jordan Brenner, “It’s the fit. Definitely the fit. I want to remain competitive and this is the best opportunity.”

Finding a winning franchise is always a good fit, but there’s more to it than that.

Starting with the obvious, Livingston is an experienced and gifted floor general who seems to be peaking at the perfect time for Golden State.

As NBCSports.com’s Dan Feldman notes, “Livingston had the best season of his career in Brooklyn last year. Starting most of the season, he averaged 8.3 points, 3.2 assists and 1.2 steals in 26.0 minutes per game as a secondary ball-handler in the backcourt.”

Livingston told Brenner, “It was the best year I’ve had in terms of consistency.”

As CSNBayArea.com’s Monte Poole notes, “Livingston’s career has been hijacked by injuries, the most grotesque and devastating being a left knee injury as a member of the Clippers in 2007. The injury required extensive surgery and rehabilitation.”

By now the effects of that injury are ancient history.

So the signing comes at a good time for the Warriors. They’re getting a guy who appears to be hitting his stride, understanding his role and finding his niche. And the transition with Golden State should be straightforward enough.

As was the case in Brooklyn, Livingston will spend much of his time playing alongside a point guard who can score.

Stephen Curry did it all for Golden State last season, averaging 24 points and 8.5 assists in a campaign that solidified his status as an emergent superstar. But Curry does some of his best work off the ball, and that’s one reason he’ll co-exist splendidly with Livingston.

The 28-year-old’s ability to handle and distribute the ball will allow Curry to spend additional time running off screens and getting himself the shred of daylight he needs to put a shot up. Livingston will also relieve Curry of some minutes. The elder Splash Brother averaged 36.5 of those minutes last season and 42.3 per contest in the playoffs.

Though the 26-year-old has carried the load quite nicely, an extra breather now and then certainly couldn’t hurt.

Livingston may also embolden Curry to become even more of a shooter, which is probably a good thing given his career’s 44-percent success rate from beyond the three-point arc.

Crucially, Livingston has pass-first instincts. His 26.6 assist ratio ranked just behind Curry himself last season (who scored a 26.7 rating). That didn’t rank him among the very best distributors, but it’s an impressive figure given that Livingston’s usage rate was 60th out of 70 qualifying point guards.

In other words, there was a relatively small sample size by which to measure Livingston’s decision-making. But the eye test confirms that he looked to facilitate more than the average ball-handler.

And the numbers confirm solid overall efficiency. Livingston’s 14.52 player efficiency rating put him ahead of several starters around the league, including Jameer Nelson, George Hill and Raymond Felton.

There are limitations to Livingston’s game to be sure.

He can’t shoot three-pointers, and he turns the ball over a bit more often than you’d like to see from a player who doesn’t dominate the ball. 

The good news is Golden State has plenty of three-point shooters, namely Curry and backcourt partner Klay Thompson. Floor spacing won’t suffer too much when Livingston is on the floor, and he’s learned to make up for his missing perimeter shot with a better-than-average in-between game.

As CBSSports.com’s Matt Moore observes, Golden State, “needed a floor general and perimeter defender more than another shooter anyway.”

About that defense.

The Warriors became a much-improved defensive club over the last two seasons, and that’s in spite of the fact that interior anchor Andrew Bogut has been consistently sidetracked by injury (though the 67 games he played last season were a vast improvement over the 2012-13 campaign, when he suited up just 32 times).

Golden State ranked third league-wide last season in opponents’ field-goal percentage (at 43.6 percent), just behind defensive juggernauts in the Indiana Pacers and Chicago Bulls.

Livingston will only add to that defensive presence with his length and versatility. Though he’s frequently classified as a point guard on account of his handling ability, Livingston can guard virtually anyone in the backcourt or on the wing. In fact, there’s no reason he couldn’t play alongside Curry and Thompson—essentially playing backup to small forward Andre Iguodala, himself a top-shelf playmaker and defender.

The Warriors have been on the verge of contending in each of the last two seasons, appearing just a piece or two away from having what it takes to surpass teams like the San Antonio Spurs and Oklahoma City Thunder.

Even as rumors swirl regarding the team’s pursuit of Love, it may be that the less ambitious acquisition of Livingston makes a significant difference nonetheless. 

Unless Myers and Co. are absolutely convinced that acquiring Love is worth disrupting this squad’s core, this roster is better off being tweaked than overhauled. Very little here is fundamentally broken, so the fixes should be modest.

Outside of a trade, the organization couldn’t (and can’t) afford much else.

With Livingston occupying Golden State’s mid-level exception and bringing the club’s salary commitments right up to the hard cap, the remainder of the offseason may be a quiet one. But for the chance of that Love story becoming a reality, quiet isn’t a bad thing.

Nor was adding Shaun Livingston.

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AP Source: Warriors, Livingston reach 3-year deal (Yahoo Sports)

Golden State made a move to fill an important role behind point guard Stephen Curry on the first day teams were allowed to speak with free agents. The Warriors and guard Shaun Livingston agreed to a three-year contract worth about $16 million Tuesday night, a person familiar with the deal said. ”We intend to enter into a player contract with Shaun Livingston once the moratorium period ends,” Warriors general manager Bob Myers confirmed in a statement. The Warriors are hoping Livingston can bring some relief off the bench behind Curry, which proved problematic at times last season after Jarrett Jack left for Cleveland in free agency.

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