Shaun Livingston: The backup option who both Steph Curry and the Golden State Warriors needed
Shaun Livingston was an early bloomer. The Warriors star has been at the top of his game off-late, but it always hasn't been that way. Livingston started off his career fresh out of high school. He chose to look past his signing with Duke to enter the 2004 NBA Draft and has never looked back.
With his 6'7" frame and the vision and mindfulness to well surpass other athletes of similar caliber, he was set on the path to greatness. Unfortunately, just as he started to get himself settled into the big leagues and creating the great expectations we see him achieve today he suffered a gruesome knee injury. This injury would keep him in rehab and shuffling between teams for years. This continued until 2014 when he was picked up by the Golden State Warriors.
Injuries may not have discriminated this player from the rest, but the goodness in him did. Picked up as a free agent, Livingston had lots to prove to the team and the coach to be made a staple. Fortunately for coach Kerr and the rest of the team, his presence would help them achieve the long-elusive titles. Little did the Warriors know that they were not only picking up an evergreen player but were creating a cushion for one of their best, Stephen Curry.
“Just trying to take a little of the burden off of him,” Livingston said of Curry, “take some burden off myself, and just play.”
Pre-injury Shaun Livingston was on the road to becoming one of the best point guards of all time. Today, instead he has become a reassuring presence on the bench, but his capabilities have not been forgotten. Unfortunately, they had never been seen until an injury affected arguably the league's most popular player, Steph Curry, bringing the teams foresight well into focus.
Before Steph's injury in the first round of the 2016 NBA Playoffs, Livingston had often been brought on to the court to relieve the MVP of ball handling duties so he could pick his stats up whilst scoring for the team. Further, in these cases, Livingston made sure that the long-range baskets could be covered by Curry, while he did the work of the superstar.
When asked about stats Livingston made it clear that his purpose on the team is to lead them to victory, not to pick up stats. He knows that he can leave that to the likes of Durant, Curry, and Green.
Coming back to Curry's 2016 playoff injury, it was the period where Livingston become the official backup for the current MVP. With Curry out, the Warriors not only needed to win without their fan favorite but also potentially the glue that kept the starting five together.
Hypothetically, Curry was scheduled to be out for two weeks, well into the next stage of the playoffs and this was only assuming that Golden State finished off Houston clean. Starting in his place, Livingston put up strong numbers averaging 16 points, 4.5 assists, 3.5 rebounds and 2.5 steals per game. This development that may have come as a surprise to casual NBA viewers that tuned in to watch their beloved MVP, but was actually just as if it was meant to be.
Right then was when the Peoria Central High School star completely lived up for his promise. He not only fixed his own career in gold but also ensure that his team would never again fear a single game day without Curry. He had just managed to fight all odds to put himself in the position he was born to serve.