Shaun Livingston, in His Own Words
The PG talks comeback, the season, and the future.
by Colin Powers
In the wake of a forgettable season for the Washington Wizards, the recent emergence of Shaun Livingston as the team’s starting Point Guard has been a well-deserved bright spot. Signing on with the team at the end of February, Livingston has reinvigorated his career and asserted himself once again as one of the more dynamic young Point Guards in the League. I caught up with him on Sunday to talk about the journey that has been and the future that is ahead.
SLAM: What’s the most difficult thing in coming back from an injury? Confidence, getting your rhythm back, the speed of the game?
Shaun Livingston: Man, it’s just the physical part, you know, with your body bouncing back from a traumatic injury. No matter what your mind says, it’s all about your body. And I think with confidence, you get that with more repetitions out on the court.
SLAM: You jumped right into major minutes with the Wizards. How has your body reacted to that?
SL: It’s cool, you know, just like normal. It’s just being tired. No pain in my knee, no soreness or anything so that’s good.
SLAM: How have you evolved as a player from when you first came into the League out of high school?
SL: I’m just more mature on the court. Knowing the different experiences I’ve had, and I’m still learning more, but just being a little bit more calm and collected and just making smarter plays.
SLAM: What do you think you can improve on to continue climbing as one of the best young PGs in the League?
SL: The big thing is just continuing to control the tempo of the game. Leadership, leadership qualities. And picking my spots, when to score, when to pass. And hopefully as my physical condition gets better, I want to improve on my defense. I was known kinda as a defensive player when I was in L.A., but it’s been a lot harder now.
SLAM: Do you feel any physical limits on what you can or cannot do out on the court?
SL: It’s just all reactions. My reactions aren’t what they were, as far as quickness and speed-wise. I think I’m just a little bit of a step slow because I don’t have that same explosion and reaction. So that’s probably the last thing, I may never get it back, but that’s probably been one of my major limits.
SLAM: How has Sam been as an assistant coach? I saw you guys play on Tuesday and was impressed by your post-game and different floaters, etc., around the basket. Is that something you’ve worked on with him?
SL: Yeah you know what I mean, he had a lot of post-game. Me and Sam are similar because we’re both big guards. He’s a big guard, he can get his shot off against a lot of smaller guards and that’s what I try to do as well. I’m not as good a shooter as he was, or as good a long-range shooter, but I’m just focusing on getting to my spots, getting my shot off, and working on the footwork and the nuances of the game.
SLAM: How has your experience been with the Wizards in general? Would you like to stay on this summer?
SL: I’m definitely appreciative of the opportunity that they gave me. It’s a blessing. More so, it’s up to me to make the most of it. I told everybody the same thing. It’s a business, they blessed me with an opportunity. It’s my job to go out and take advantage of it.
SLAM: Offensively, you guys can be pretty tough and have a lot of different weapons out there. You have a lot of young parts. How good do you this team can be?
SL: It’s a big learning process. It’s gonna take more learning, more discipline for us to be really good. Defensively, just the little things make teams good. This team doesn’t necessarily have a top 5 player, a top 10 player on its rotation. That’s why you gotta collectively be disciplined and do the little things. The team has potential, but it definitely has some places it needs to improve as well.
SLAM: Can you describe Andray’s game for me? What’s it like playing with him?
SL: First of all, I didn’t know he was that good. Coming to the team, I realized how skilled he was. He has an opportunity to be a go-to guy, a franchise player offensively. Offensively, there’s very little that he can’t do. He has few limitations on the court. It’s really just about his development, as far as knowing the game, choosing his spots, making smart plays. And then defensively, being a beast because of his height and athleticism. I mean, he could very well be a franchise player. He just needs to improve in the right spots.
SLAM: What kind of advice could you offer a guy like Da’Sean Butler, who has a long road of rehab in front of him?
SL: Just take it one day at a time. There’s always light at the end of the tunnel, but it’s up to you to see that light. You’re not gonna see it at the beginning, but it’s there. You gotta keep pushing. It’s all about consistency and sacrifice. If you’re not gonna sacrifice anything, your gains are gonna be even smaller; it’s not gonna be as wide or as vast.
SLAM: Last question…who’s the toughest match-up in the League for you?
SL: Man, probably, by the looks of it last night, Jamal Crawford. [Laughs] I mean, he had 28, he’s really got me thinking about my defense. But it’s hard, he’s a tough match-up for anybody. I’d probably have to say Deron Williams or Jamal Crawford.