2013-14 Team and All Previous Teams: Brooklyn Nets and 26.7% of the teams in the league.
Key Stats 2013/14: 8.3 points, 3.2 rebounds, 3.2 assists, 1.2 steals, 48.3 FG% in 26 minutes/game.
Estimated contract: 3 years, $9-12 million
Matters to No One But Me …
Watching Shaun Livingston play basketball this year was joyful experience. It’s the same joy that I got from watching Draymond Green, Ricky Rubio and Manu Ginobili – all guys who consume, process and play the game three seconds ahead of everyone else. They don’t just anticipate the future, they dictate it, create the future of their desires by directing teammates to their preferred positions. Livingston has the vision and ability to instigate a chain of events that puts nine other individuals on a string that only he controls.
He does this with his creativity, control, quick decisions, recognition of defenses, ball movement and genuine mastery of the game. Watching Livingston makes me question everything I think I know about hoop, disregards the lens with which I watch the game and destroys the little knowledge that I may have acquired. These are all good things. Conventionality is boring, monotonous and repetitive (all tokens of Pistons basketball in the past half decade). I appreciate my reality being distorted and re-shaped by a new passing angle or cut to the rim.
Livingston possesses a spirit of hoop that challenges our perceptions about the game on a nightly basis. He plays with calculated control (“old man game” as some call it) yet his decisions appear daring. He truly sees the game paranormally or experiences it with a sixth sense that most do not possess. The only thing we can do is admire and appreciate the goodness in it.
Fits with the Pistons because …
Livingston is a pass-first rim-attacking playmaker that engages his teammates on every possession – all desperate needs in Detroit. His court awareness allowed him to play off-ball and alongside ball dominant guards in Joe Johnson, Deron Williams and Paul Pierce in Brooklyn. He has the ability to make himself available in open space and finish plays when given the opportunity.
Livingston’s post-up game ranks ahead of Dwight Howard but behind Zach Randolph. He’s exclusively a post-up option on the offensive end (see shot chart) and possesses a deadly mid-range turnaround that he can get over just about anybody in the league. It’s difficult to describe his arsenal of uncharacteristic yet fascinating one-handed hooks, floaters and pull-up jumpers when in close proximity to the rim but they are present and true.
It’s not a stretch to say Livingston would be the best post-up option on the Pistons next season just like he was on Brooklyn last year. He doesn’t often look for his own shot but has a tendency to call his own number at halfcourt for transition isolation post-up opportunities where he sprints to either the left or right block, usually on a smaller guard, and backs down the defender before the defense can set (my second favorite play in transition after the pull-up three).
Livingston is a long versatile defender that can guard positions 1-to-3 effectively and has even played spot minutes on LeBron James and Kevin Durant this season. His uncanny length bothers opposing point guards and his explosiveness can alter shots when trailing a defender on the way to the rim. He lives in passing lanes and his offensive smarts apply to the defensive end when it comes to helping and making the right rotation.
Doesn’t fit with the Pistons because …
The Raptors were up 3-2 on the Nets in the first round of the Eastern Conference playoffs this year before Livingston turned the series in favor of Brooklyn … by playing less. After falling behind 1-0 in the series, Toronto won three of the next four by ignoring Livingston’s outside jumper and doubling off him to bother Joe Johnson post-ups and help on Paul Pierce drives on either Patrick Patterson or Amir Johnson. Livingston started the first five games in the series but played only 28 minutes combined in the last two games of the series.Alan Anderson started Games 6 and 7 to stretch the Raptors defense, penalize them for doubling and Brooklyn was able put together enough successful offensive possessions to win the series.
Livingston cannot even be categorized as a bad outside shooter because he doesn’t even take those shots. He was 1-of-6 from three and 6-of-24 a step inside the three-point line this season. He’s not even thinking about shooting from outside. That’s not an issue during the lazy up-tempo regular season but is a weakness that will be exploited in the possession-by-possession struggle that is the playoffs.
Livingston will amplify the Piston’s spacing issues. Teams will go way under him on the pick-and-roll to impede Andre Drummond dives to the rim and make Livingston earn his bucket by getting all the way to the basket. This all changes if Livingston returns next season with extended range.
Free Agent is …
… Looking for a long-term deal and a home. Since returning from his injury, Livingston has played on seven different teams in six years plus two separate stints with Oklahoma City and Washington which brings his total up to nine different call-ups. He started 54 of the 76 games in which he appeared this season – both career highs – and was a large part of Brooklyn’s resurgence after a miserable start. He’s done enough to avoid being an after thought at the onset of training camp next October like he has been for the past bunch of years.
Best known for …
As emphasized on every national television broadcast since his return, Livingston is still known for his tragic injury. Below is a recap of the injury and recovery Warning: I don’t have the stomach to watch it. Click at your own risk. It’s a great story once you get past the gore.