In the Lane with Licht: "Mr. Clutch" Beats Buzzer Again
November 3, 2006
13 months ago, nobody could have predicted how bright David Wests star would be shining in November, 2006.
Not Byron Scott.
Not Jeff Bower.
Not George Shinn.
Not even David West himself.
The Hornets 6-9 forward wasnt a star. Heck, he wasnt even in the Hornets playing rotation. Following a serious knee injury suffered in his first NBA start during his second NBA season the 6-9 forward entered training camp in October, 2005 fighting for playing time. But, after starting center Jamaal Magliore was traded to Milwaukee before the start of the regular season West was suddenly thrust into Scotts starting lineup.
On opening night he led the team with 11 rebounds. At Orlando in game number nine he scored a career high 34 points. Prior to that night he had never scored more than 16 points in an NBA game. He went on to average a team-leading 17.1 points per game and 7.4 rebounds per contest.
But it was the way he became the Hornets go-to guy that makes him such an intriguing story.
It wasnt just Wests on court camaraderie with rookie sensation Chris Paul that jumped out at you. The screen and roll and pick and pop plays that seemingly set him free every time down the floor were fun to watch. But, the game winning shots helped transform him from good to great.
He led the NBA with three buzzer-beating shots last season. He was such a sure thing with the game on the line that when his end-of-the-game three point attempt against Indiana fell just short we were shocked.
He finished runner up for the leagues Most Improved Award (Phoenix forward Boris Diaw captured the honor), and 16th in the NBA in field goal percentage (.512).
Oh, and by the way, Wests good fortune continued OFF the court last season too as he and wife Leslie became parents for the first time with the birth of daughter Dasia in February.
West is a huge boxing fan, so much so that when he returns to Raleigh, N.C. during the off-season he jumps rope and gets in the ring to work on stamina, strength, footwork and general conditioning. His workout regimen helped him rehabilitate an injured right knee and steer his career onto the high achievement highway.
How about a new contract extension reportedly worth five years and $45 million dollars? Thats the deal West signed on October 30th, one day before the deadline to extend his original NBA rookie deal.
It figures he would beat the buzzer on another Hornets victory this time with a pen.