October 06, 2008
Partially because a well-placed tenor solo goes longer toward trying to express just how brilliant this kid's prospects look, but mostly because I've tried, several times, including more than a few times during these recent summer months. You just can't put your fingers around it.
What we can try, as a poor replacement, is attempt to convince you to give this kid a miss during the 2008-09 season. Sure, the Miami Heat saw fit to sign him for the upcoming term, while the Timberwolves and others saw fit to show interest, but we (the backers, the punters, those in between) have to remember that this kid's rehab is not finished.
As late as 2006-07, his last full season with the Los Angeles Clippers, Livingston was still trying to develop the sort of upper and lower body strength needed to not only become a starting-quality NBA guard (criticisms that have rightfully dogged him since his pre-draft workouts in 2004), but someone who could be counted on to play half an NBA game 65 times over the course of a season.
That was two years ago, and though the Clippers were and are a skinflint organization when it comes to bulking up in the strength and training department, it's going to take more than a change of practice court scenery for Livingston to turn things around.
That doesn't mean that he can't turn it around, or that 82 percent of basketball junkies out there wouldn't give 82 percent of their kidneys to see this kid working at full strength, but it's going to be another season of underwater work and treadmill time. That's just how things are going to flow, so we'd like to ask that we wait a while before presuming that the "finished" label works with Mr. Livingston. Apologies for repeating myself, but partially because it would depress the hell out of your humble narrator, and mainly because it wouldn't be true, even next June.
The Heat needs help at point guard. Mario Chalmers has been so underrated since his June selection by Miami that it's gotten to the point where people have convinced themselves that he'll be a starting-quality NBA point man this year, thereby rendering him overrated. Chalmers can be an All-Star by his third year for all we know, but things have gotten a little out of hand at this point.
Marcus Banks is still trying to throw footballs over mountains, Chris Quinn and his wispy little mustache are still trying to park in the players' parking lot without being asked for ID, and beyond all jokes, that's still a passable enough rotation. Not great, certainly with holes, but not worth fretting terribly over. Not when Dwyane Wade is going to lead the team in assists anyway.
So as a fourth guard, let's remind ourselves not to rail when he doesn't see but 14 minutes in a month, or can't see the court in a 30-point win or loss. This is still a rebuilding year, those legs (among other body parts) have to work themselves into passable NBA shape, and the guy just turned 23.
There's time. Let's give it to him.