Player Review 2014: David West
Years pro: 11
Status: Has two more years remaining on his contract. The final year is a player option.
Key Stats: Averaged 14 points and 6.8 rebounds while playing 31 minutes per game. Offensive production went up along with his playing time in the postseason, when he averaged 15.1 points and 6.7 rebounds in 36.2 minutes.
David West insists he's only going to play for the length of his contract, which runs for two more seasons. He gives the impression of maintaining productivity well beyond that, however.
West, the Pacers' oldest starter at 33 years old – 34 when next season opens – plays like a durable wind-up toy. His game doesn't rely on athleticism as much as shot-making and smarts, so he seems like the type who can still contribute, Reggie-like, when he's closing in on 40. Roll him out there and he'll hit mid-range jumpers deep into the night, score around the basket with a clinic's worth of post-up moves and get his share of rebounds, too. Oh, and he'll usually step up in clutch moments, too.
Photo Gallery: David West Season-in-Review »
West was back at it this past season, looking like he's always looked, although for not as long. He played in every game except for the two he was held out with other starters to rest, but played 2.5 fewer minutes, took two fewer shots and two fewer free throws per game than the previous season. The fact his scoring average dropped 3.1 points to 14.0 was more the result of circumstance than declining ability. His field goal percentage dropped only minimally and his free throw percentage improved.
He also lifted his play in the postseason, as he's done four of the six years he's competed in the playoffs. He averaged 15.1 points on 49 percent shooting in the Pacers' 19 playoff games, saving his best for two of their most challenging games of the season. He had 24 points, 11 rebounds and six assists when the Pacers were facing elimination in Game 6 in Atlanta in the first round, and 29 points, six rebounds and four assists when they clinched their second-round series against the Wizards in Washington. He was solid in the closeout loss at Miami, too, with 16 points on 8-of-11 shooting.
He's without question the team's best clutch performer, as Paul George acknowledged following the Game 6 win in Washington, when West scored eight points during a 14-2 run after the Wizards had pulled within a point.
“When David West has that look, when he's assertive and he demands the ball, I know we're in good hands," George said. “He's never failed us when he's given us that look and he's told us in the huddles, 'Get me the ball.'"
It speaks to West's consistency and maturity that he was the only starter not to come up for discussion at team president Larry Bird's postseason press conference. There just isn't as much to say about him as the other starters. He does what he's expected to do, nearly all the time, without making waves. He only failed to reach double figures in four playoff games. He had eight or nine points in three of those, and played limited minutes in two of them.
He's still the most respected voice in the locker room, although his veteran influence probably is waning as the players around him grow older. Still, they would be wise to pay attention. West seemed exasperated at times this season as teammates struggled with their roles, with their fame, or for recognition. But he remained the voice of reason, the go-to guy in the locker room for media members in search of insight and truth.
Such as after the season-ending loss in Miami.
“We weren't able to match what they are capable of,” he said of the Heat. “They've got a gear that we can't get to. We've got to have everybody locked in and determined to get through these moments.
You've got to show what you're made of. They were more prepared and more seasoned for these moments.”
Time for moments like those is running out on West. The burden is greater on those around him than on him to step up to make them happen.