By now, we all know about the newest NBA powerhouse, the Golden State Warriors. The 2015 NBA champions trot out a starting lineup that includes four 2016 All-Stars (Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Kevin Durant, and Draymond Green).
Seems a little overpowered, right? Well, to add to the equation, the Warriors also have one of the best benches in the NBA, led by Shaun Livingston, Andre Iguodala and JaVale McGee. The Warriors look destined for another NBA Finals appearance, but it all depends on the play of ONE player. That player is not Kevin Durant, Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, nor Draymond Green. The X-Factor to the Golden State Warriors’ success is no other than Shaun Livingston.
This year Shaun Livingston averaged 5.1 points per game, 1.8 assists per game, and 2 rebounds per game. Now, you might be thinking, “How is the X-Factor to the Warriors success a bench player that averages 5.1 Points per Game?” Well, the magic number for the Warriors and Livingston is 9. The Warriors went 7-0 in the 2015-2016 Playoffs, and 5-0 in the 2016-2017 regular season when Livingston scored 9 points or more off the Bench.
Livingston would be a Starter on a lot of the teams in the NBA, and the Warriors are very lucky to have him backing up Stephen Curry. Livingston is a 6’7 point guard, so he has a major size advantage over the other point guards that defend him. Shaun has one of the best mid-range jumpers in the NBA, and he has an excellent post game. Golden State will often have Livingston post up a smaller guard, and he will look for the open man, or shoot a post-fade. The Warriors offense is very efficient with Livingston in, as he’s great at passing and finishing in transition.
At the end of the day, the Warriors have plenty of reliable scoring options. They have four legitimate superstars in their starting five! Livingston helps provide playmaking, scoring, length, and good defense to lead the Warriors’ bench unit. If Livingston plays well off the Bench for the Warriors, then a Finals appearance is almost guaranteed.