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Player Review: David West

by Mark Montieth | askmontieth@gmail.com

June 26, 2013

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Age: 32
Years Pro: 10
Status: Free Agent.
Key Stats: Averaged 17.1 points on 49 percent shooting, along with 7.7 rebounds. Averaged 15.9 points and 7.6 rebounds in the playoffs.

Sometimes it seems David West's locker stall should be placed on a mountaintop, where the guru can stroke the hair on his chin and dispense thoughtful commentary on the Pacers to willing listeners. Or, for that matter, to the teammates who hold him in such high regard.

West is the adult in every room, an unspoiled veteran power forward who would fit with any team because of his steady, fundamental, unselfish play. He is not a player around whom a team would be built, but one who helps build teams, on the court and off.

At 32 – he'll be 33 on Aug. 29 – he's the oldest Pacer. He didn't lead them in any statistical categories, and tends not to show up on Plays of the Day, but it could be argued he was the team's MVP last season. He was the steadiest player on the court, and the most mature player off it.

He's also the team's first order of business once free agency can be addressed on July 1. He has stated his desire to return to the Pacers, realizing he's in the right place at the right time to contend for a championship, and isn't likely to find a better fit within a locker room. Team president Donnie Walsh, meanwhile, has made clear the franchise's intention to re-sign him, so it's difficult to imagine a scenario in which it won't happen.

“I love it here, love this group of guys, this environment, love the core group that we have,” he said during the second-round series with New York. “This group only has room to get better.”

West's consistency tends to be numbing, so it's difficult to pick out highlights and lowlights. He set the tone for the season, however, with his performance in the season-opener at Toronto. He scored 25 points in 28 minutes, including 14 between the 7:47 and 1:20 marks in the fourth quarter. He then drew the defense on a pick-and-roll with George Hill, leaving Hill open for a floater in the lane for the game-winning basket. West put on his usual clinic during that stretch, hitting open jumpers, jump-hooks, and power drives past interior defenders … just fundamental big-man basketball.

He failed to reach double figures in only six games, and one of those was the game against Brooklyn when he was poked in the eye by Brook Lopez and played only 25 minutes. He had 16 double-doubles in the regular season and one triple-double, a 14-12-10 gem against Charlotte. He also had six double-doubles in 19 playoff games, and scored in double figures in each one.

Still, leadership likely will always be his greatest asset. Perhaps his best example of that came two seasons ago, in the second-round playoff series against Miami. The Pacers took a 2-1 lead in that series after winning Game 3 at Bankers Life Fieldhouse, and the Heat appeared to be unraveling. The next game wasn't until three days later, so Coach Frank Vogel was planning to give his players a day off. West talked him out of it, warning him that the Heat would no doubt be working hard to overcome their issues and the Pacers needed to match the effort. The Pacers lost the next game and the series, but West had made a statement.

Odds are, his example will be there to follow for at least a few more years.

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