#WizardsRank: Shaun Livingston, No. 15: Born Again in Washington
Truth About It.net will turn a whole five years old at the end of this October.
Hard to believe/interesting. Nonetheless, over the life of the site from the 2007-08 season to 2011-12, we’ve seen/lived/suffered through 131 wins, 263 losses, four coaches, two owners, one GM/team president, one Phil Chenier mustache removal, and 56 total players (amazingly, 48 players over the last three seasons).
TAI anonymously polled 27 members of the Wizards pixel establishment — from mainstream media to new media, TAI staffers included, to a few pixel consumers (readers of the site) — and got 17 responses.
Participants were given the full list of 56 in alphabetical order, and included for each player were total games, minutes, PER (player efficiency rating), and WS/48 (win-shares per 48 minutes) only from the last five seasons. Participants were asked to rate each player on the scale of 1-to-10 according to this criteria: on court performance; off court performance; intangibles; and own personal memory. Yes, this is totally subjective, but relatively collective.
NOTE: #WizardsRank Nos. 56 to 16 have been posted and links can be found below. Now, we’ll start releasing player rankings one or so at a time. -Kyle W.
5.18 out of 10
(26 games, 666 minutes, 14.4 PER, .084 WS/48)
The “point guard delivered from heaven” known as Shaun Livingston had two chances with two different NBA teams to prove he was healed from “the injury.” During the 2008-09 season he played four games with the Miami Heat, but didn’t receive a second 10-day contract. He played 18 games (eight in 2008-09 and 10 in 2009-10 ) for the Oklahoma City Thunder, filling in for injured backup point Eric Maynor. There were fleeting moments of greatness, but not enough to convince the Thunder to sign him for the remainder of the season. When the Wizards inked Livingston on February 26, 2010, it didn’t appear as if he would have enough opportunity to show his full repertoire in Washington either. At the start, the pattern was the same. There were stretches of play when he’d use his size to see over a defender and squeeze in a pinpoint pass, and it always seemed like the Wizards’ offense ran smoother with Livingston at the helm, as opposed to Earl Boykins or Randy Foye. Then came the Orlando Magic game.
Against the Magic, Livingston finished with 18 points, eight assists and three rebounds. And while he did not lead the Wizards to victory, he ran the offense like a veteran — 16 of the Wizards’ 24 assists came with Livingston on the floor. Afterward, he received an ample amount of media attention, and most importantly, he won the trust of then-coach Flip Saunders, who’s known for being notoriously hard on point guards.
“The biggest thing is he’s got a very high basketball I.Q. He seems to calm everybody down a little bit when he’s on the floor. And he’s got great size so when things break down he’s has the ability to back somebody down and get a shot off,” said Saunders.
The very next game, the coach thrust Livingston into the starting lineup against Deron Williams and the Utah Jazz. He was thoroughly outplayed by Williams, and he had just six points and zero assists, but Saunders kept him in the starting lineup the next game, and for the 16 games after that. After two 10-day contracts, Livingston eventually earned a contract for the remainder of the season.
As a starter he averaged 11.2 points, 4.9 assists and shot 53 percent from the field (the Wizards had just a 5-13 record in his starts), and he proved to the team, and himself, that he could play extended, meaningful minutes again. Livingston even dunked over Pau Gasol, had a nice move over Dwight Howard, and flirted with a triple-double against the Boston Celtics (25 points, seven assists and six rebounds). In fact, Livingston played so well that he once allowed himself to think ahead to the 2010-11 season when Gilbert Arenas was scheduled to return.
“I mean, Gilbert is known around the league as a scoring guard during his career, and I think if I were running the point, that would free things up for him tremendously. Then obviously it opens the floor for me a bit as well. Plus I’m 6’7″, he’s 6’4″, a back court like that is a handful on both ends of the floor.
OK, yeah, I’m getting excited just talking about that [laughs heartily]. But seriously, a whole lot needs to happen for that to be a reality. I mean, I don’t even know if the Wizards are bringing me back next year for sure, so I can’t get too carried away.”
Less than a month later the Wizards won the 2010 draft lottery, and a month after that, John Wall was drafted. Livingston was the odd man out. He found a home with the Charlotte Bobcats to the nice tune of two-years, $7 million, and when he returned to D.C., he had nothing but classy things to say about the Wizards and Gilbert Arenas. Last season he played for the Milwaukee Bucks, sent north via a June 2011 trade that involved, among others, Stephen Jackson going to the Bucks and Corey Maggette to Charlotte. In June 2012, he was part of the deal that sent several players to the Houston Rockets and Samuel Dalembert to Milwaukee. The Wizards had interest in bringing him back this season, given that Livingston’s rights were waived by the Rockets, which was a rumored option in their chase for Dwight Howard. But when Houston fell short for Howard, and with the Wizards anxious to add a backup point, A.J. Price became the sought-after target.
Not having Livingston in a Wizards uniform as a calming influence who could spell Wall as backup point guard (or even play alongside him) brings a bittersweet feeling. But more importantly, thanks to the role his stint in Washington played in the rejuvenation of his career, Livingston has become a player that not only fans root for, but journalists as well — a point made beautifully by NBA blogger/writer Holly MacKenzie:
I root for Shaun Livingston to succeed because it’s impossible not to. If you love basketball and heart, humility and perseverance, people who just try to get it right, on and off the basketball floor, then you root for Shaun. After a promising career was dashed by a truly devastating injury, we all thought he was finished. We wrote off his career because, you know, how coud someone come back from an injury that saw every ligament of his leg mangled. Shaun had a different ending in mind and he wasn’t ready for his basketball tale to be over. Instead of giving up through the pain, he worked hard, ridiculously hard, to rehab his knee, restrengthen his leg and rebuild his self-confidence. The thing that people always forget is the toll that an injury takes on an athlete mentally. Watching your body break down, break apart and fail you, it’s hard to trust it again. It’s hard to chance it again. Shaun knew this, but also knew he belonged on the basketball court. While we still wince when he drives to the hoop, he allows a slight smile to break out after throwing down a dunk. We hold our collective breath when he goes down on the court, he hops up and shakes himself off, angry he missed a defensive assignment. We worry, he plays. Neither of us will ever forget.
Rashard Mobley ][ @Rashad20
No. 56: Cedric Jackson; No. 55: Mike Bibby; No. 54: Paul Davis; No. 53: Edwin Ubiles; No. 52: Quinton Ross.
No. 51: Mike Wilks; No. 50: Mike Harris; No. 49: Javaris Crittenton; No. 48: Dee Brown; No. 47: Morris Almond.
No. 46: Larry Owens; No. 45: Mustafa Shakur; No. 44: Brian Cook; No. 43: Hamady N’diaye; No. 42: Rashard Lewis.
No. 41: Hilton Armstrong; No. 40: Oleksiy Pecherov; No. 39: Mike James; No. 38: Fabricio Oberto; No. 37: Ronny Turiaf.
No. 36: Lester Hudson; No. 35: Yi Jianlian; No. 34: Juan Dixon; No. 33: Josh Howard; No. 32: Chris Singleton.
No. 31: Al Thornton; No. 30: Shelvin Mack; No. 29: Mo Evans; No. 28: Mike Miller; No. 27: Alonzo Gee.
No. 26: Randy Foye; No. 25: Dominic McGuire; No. 24: Andray Blatche; No. 23: Earl Boykins; No. 22: Roger Mason.
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