Iguodala and Livingston Are Back
This past week it was announced that the Golden State Warriors were set to re-sign Andre Iguodala and Shaun Livingston, but getting there wasn’t as pretty as the Warriors seemingly make everything look. With Livingston, there was no real danger in seeing him walk in free agency, despite the allure that his consistently productive play throughout the playoffs may have had on several other teams looking to add a veteran piece. The Warriors and Livingston eventually agreed to a 3-year $24 million dollar contract. The negotiations with Iguodala were not as straightforward though. Heading into the offseason, it was widely assumed that Iguodala would re-sign with the Warriors, as if it were a given that he would only want to play for Golden State. Iguodala, however, met with the Spurs and Lakers soon after free agency began on midnight on July 1st. Palms in Golden State began to sweat as it looked like there was legitimate interest between Iguodala and other teams. Perhaps Iguodala wasn’t satisfied with any initial re-signing offer from the Warriors, and used the opportunity to test the free agent market to pressure Golden State into paying more. In the end, Warrior fans and Iguodala both got their wishes fulfilled, as Iguodala is set to stay in Oakland for the next three years and get payed $48 million, much more than what was expected going into the summer.
As much as this is a win for Iguodala, re-signing him and Livingston is also a win for the Warriors. Iguodala and Livingston are the core of the championship bench, as the two of them have been important parts of the second unit longer than anyone on the roster. But on top of the seniority that Iguodala and Livingston hold as members of the Warriors bench, they both also embody the culture that enables the success of the Warriors. As unselfish players, Iguodala and Livingston are able to seamlessly enter the flow of the game and fit right into the style of ball movement that looks for the open guy with the best shot. When members of the starting five head to the bench, Iguodala and Livingston allow the Warriors style of play to continue with the second unit. They are invaluable in keeping the Warriors offense consistent throughout the game.
But their value doesn’t simply come from their unselfishness, as they both have unique skills that help make the Warriors such a versatile team. Iguodala’s ultimate value may be his ability to guard LeBron James in iso situation. Many have tried and failed when it comes to staying in front of LeBron on the perimeter. Not only does Iguodala have quick enough feet, but he also has quick hands to get his hands on the ball when Lebron is driving to the lane. There is no one else in the league that has the combination of skill and experience to guard Lebron, the best player in the world. Livingston also has a unique skill set held by almost no one else in the league: his height at point guard. At 6’7”, stands three to four inches above most NBA point guards. This is especially effective when Livingston posts up opposing point guards, as he can rise and shoot above them. Livingston shot over 57% from the field this past postseason, in part because his opposing defender was often the 6”3’ Damian Lillard, the 6”2’ George Hill, the 6’0” Patty Mills, and the 6’3” Kyrie Irving. When the Warriors offense becomes stagnant, it can often rely on a post-up by Livingston over a smaller guard for quick points.
The Warriors may have collectively paid more for Iguodala and Livingston than they expected, but keeping the two of them gives the Warriors unique advantages that may very well allow them to defend their title, and the Warriors wouldn’t put a price on that.