Shaun Livingston ready to say "Hello, Brooklyn"Nets' youngest off-season addition could also be the most underrated
BACKGROUNDIf not for one choice nine years ago, point guard Shaun Livingston could have joined GM Billy King and rookie Mason Plumlee as the third 2013-14 Brooklyn Net who headed “home” for training camp.
However, he never made it to Duke University, as after leading Peoria (IL) Central High School to back-to-back state titles and being named co-MVP of the 2004 McDonald’s All-American Game, Livingston skipped out on his commitment to Coach K and instead entered the 2004 NBA Draft, where he was selected fourth overall by the Los Angeles Clippers.
Unfortunately, injuries have wreaked havoc on Livingston’s whole career, the worst a horrific knee injury in February 2007 – one that saw him tear all three major ligaments and dislocate his kneecap – that cost him the rest of that season and all of 2007-08 and has limited him to a mostly reserve role since.
Brooklyn will be his eighth team (ninth if you count a 2009 stint in the D-League) in 10 years, and Livingston comes into the year with career averages of 6.7 points and 3.5 assists per game.
LAST SEASONThe 2012-13 season was so chaotic for Livingston that when he signed with the Nets this past July, Brooklyn technically became his fourth organization in 13 months. Last June, Livingston was traded from Milwaukee (where he spent all of 2011-12) to Houston, but he was eventually released by the Rockets late in the preseason; he then signed with Washington on November 15 to help replace an injured John Wall, but was released on December 22 after just 17 games with the Wizards; finally, on Christmas Day, he found a home in Cleveland, where he spent the final four months as a backup and mentor to another former No. 1 overall pick, Kyrie Irving.
Overall, Livingston played 66 games for the Wizards and Cavs, averaging 6.3 points, 3.3 assists, and 2.4 rebounds in 23.2 minutes per game.
THIS SEASONLivingston signed a one-year deal to serve as the main backup to Deron Williams this season, and while he has played in 197 of a possible 230 games over the last three seasons, the key for him will be staying healthy – especially if Williams’ ankles cause him to miss any significant time this season. So, with that in mind, when projecting his output for the season, we present three possible scenarios for Livingston:
PROBABLE CASE: Williams remains healthy, Livingston does too, and the 6-foot-7 journeyman pretty much fills his role exactly as C.J. Watson did a year ago. In that case, expect Livingston to play 15-20 minutes per game and finish with averages somewhere around seven points and three assists.
BEST CASE: Williams’ ankles force him to miss time, thrusting Livingston into a starting role. In that case, you can expect Livingston’s minutes to tick up to about 25 per game, but while his points per game may stay pretty static as the rest of the offense handles the scoring load, he could end up flirting with an assists average somewhere around the 7.7 per game Williams notched last season.
WORST CASE: Williams stays healthy while Livingston struggles and/or gets hurt and is surpassed by Taylor on the depth chart, and he ends up with a final stat line close to that of Jerry Stackhouse from last season (37 games played, 4.9 points/0.9 assists in 14.7 minutes per game).