Free agency is off and running and one of the first players to agree to an in-principle deal is Shaun Livingston. Livingston agreed on a three year, $16 million deal and from a basketball perspective, it’s a home run for Golden State.
Last season, when Stephen Curry was off the court, the Warriors struggled finding a reliable ball handler, or a reliable bench unit in general. After a couple of late season trades, they were running Steve Blake, Jordan Crawford and Nemanja Nedovic as their backup guards — hardly inspiring for a team with aspirations to go deep into the playoffs. Now, Livingston slots in perfectly as the team’s first guard off the bench and with his big 6’7″ frame will be able to play both guard slots next to either Klay Thompson and Curry.
In Brooklyn, when former coach Jason Kidd moved to a small ball lineup, Livingston played the shooting guard next to Deron Williams and ended up starting 54 of the 76 games that he played. However, even though he started, he only managed 26 minutes pr contest. Here’s a look at how his stats played out last season.
Those were almost Livingston’s best fantasy numbers of his career (he finished ranked 136th in 2006-07 when he was a member of the Clippers before his knee injury). The strengths of his fantasy game are his assists numbers, steals and incredible percentages. But the move out west spells trouble for his fantasy prospects.
For starters, he moves from a starter’s role into a bench role. Now, that could change if the Warriors decide to part with Thompson in a deal for Kevin Love, but for the time being, Livingston will be riding the pine. It’s not that you can’t be productive in a bench role, it just that you’d think his minutes will drop from the 26 he logged last season.
Curry (37) and Thompson (35) combined to play 72 minutes out of the availble 96 minutes at the guard position last season, leaving only 24 minutes availble to go to Livingston. So that right there is an issue. Nedovic is still on the roster and we played six minutes a game, leaving only 18 minutes for a back up guard. Nedovic may not play six minutes veery game, but it’s unlikely the Warriors only play three guards on most night.
Let’s use 21 minutes as a projection for next season. That’s a significant drop off. The next thing to factor in is that he is now playing for a new coach. Difficulyty is turned up a notch here because we don’t know what sort of coach Steve Kerr will be. Will he follow Phil Jackson‘s model? The last time Jackson coached, his Lakers were 21st in pace at 90.7. Or does he follow Gregg Popovich’s method? The Spurs ranked 10th last season with a pace of 95. When he played in Brooklyn, Kidd had them playing at a pace of 91.4, so the odds are Kerr will play a little faster with his young backcourt. The Warriors with Mark Jackson played at a pace of 96.2 last season, 94.5 in 2012-13 and 92.3 in 2011-12, so it’s safe to assume the new Warriors will be at least above a 92.
What does this mean for Livingston for next season? Below are some projected stats.
Those sort of numbers put Livingston around the 170’s and well out of the range of standard leagues, so don’t be sucked in by his mini-breakout this season.
Don’t get me wrong, I love the signing for the Warriors and am super happy the Livingston got paid after his horrific injury, but for fantasy, you can let someone else take him.