Here at Swarm and Sting we like to understand significance. Whether that be a roster move, a quote from a player, or even a win-streak. We like to understand what everything means in the grand scheme of things. Which is why over the next few weeks we’ll be doing some player reviews. The first of these is David West.
The 2010-11 season ended on a very sour note for West. A knee injury against the Utah Jazz was crushing to their playoff hopes. The screams heard from him signalled to Hornet fans that he was done for the season, a tough man like him would not be screaming if it weren’t serious.
For the team, Carl Landry would fill in admirably, getting playing time he would not have if West were still healthy. As for West he looks into the future which is anything but certain. The Hornets offered David a contract extension in late January but he remained assertive in his desire to test his value on the market, “I’ve been saying the same thing: I’m just going to wait until the end of the year, and I want to make the best decision I can make in terms of my future,” West said. “I’ve had an opportunity to talk with Dell. We have an understanding in terms of what’s out there, but I’m just going to play ball right now.”
With the injury now throwing the proverbial spanner into the works it also complicates his contract situation. Yet still he waits until a week before he really has to make a decision, being patient is something you see in his game, it’s also how he’s playing the off-court issues.
So let’s divulge ourselves in a recap of how his season actually went before he tragically injured himself.
The Win Streaks
When the Hornets got off to a flying start, a lot was credited to David West. He averaged 17 points over the eight games and 6 and a half rebounds, not outstanding numbers. But it was the leadership and development along side Emeka Okafor which made the team improve drastically on the defensive side of the ball.
It was a real pleasure to watch the defense of the Hornets explode onto the scene. Teams we thought we’d lose to, turned out to be victories because West and Okafor were doing such a great job of defending the paint and rebounding the basketball. David seemed as comfortable as ever in the post trying to help Chris Paul recover from a serious knee injury. His leadership and ability to take more of the offensive burden allowed Paul to work his way back.
The Game Winner’s
I don’t really want to say that David West is one of the best clutch players in the league, because he’s really not (even if such a thing exists). I do think though that West can be a really great late game performer for his ability to work out of the post and isolation situations. He had one game winning shot this season against Oklahoma City. He also had a few other game-tying baskets as well as some great down the stretch performances.
As for the Oklahoma City game winner, it was a real nail-bitter. The game was tied at 89 a piece, but at the start of the game the Thunder actually shot the ball terrifically looking like they’d blow out the Hornets. But New Orleans rallied and a late fourth quarter push, put them in position to win it.
The final play had West receiving the inbound on the right elbow, facing Ibaka up. His eyes glanced up at the clock to assess when he’d make his move. He fakes the feed through his legs, puts the ball on the floor to the right, picks up his dribble with some separation, falls away and launches a very difficult 19-foot shot of one of the premiere shot-blockers in the game. The ball floats towards the basket, West hops back with his arm extended, the ball goes through, David runs back, crowd goes berserk, and he gives everyone a glare and tells everyone how it’s done.
It truly is sad that West wasn’t able to play in the playoffs. He can put on some really great performances there, especially when playing with the best point guard in the league. David was right along the lines of his career averages, he rarely falls outside of it on either ends of the spectrum. Consistency to me, is one of the top qualities I look when judging an NBA player. Sure, it’s great to have some flair and some unknown, but guys who go in and give you something every single game is what makes it easier for coaches, their rotations and team-mates to be able to function as an effective unit.
Like I said before, he’s not far off at all, he’s been quite productive throughout his career (notice his rebounding bounced back a little bit). I hope, that moving forward that David can get back to this kind of production. The Hornets chances at building a championship roster depend on it.
I’m not quite sure as to what the future holds for the big man from Xavier. He’s given no indication of where he wants to go which isn’t going down well with Hornets fans like myself. The CBA has complicated matters further so evaluating his prospects on any team becomes immensely difficult.
As for his injury it appears he’s on his way to recovery. As mnay have noted before he doesn’t rely on his athleticism in the first place, rather his craftiness and upper body strength. I hope he works his way back to that.
If West walks I think the Hornets prospects of resigning Chris Paul are very much left to the unlikely. But, if West does resign he then posses the question, can he be effective in four years time, and if not, then how will his salary cripple the team?
We’ve seen it before with Peja Stojakovic, James Posey, Morris Peterson to name a few. My love for David West could be clouding my judgement, but I don’t think it would be smart, sane or logical to let him walk. He’s an integral part of this franchise, and if the CBA permits he can be for the rest of his career.
Season Grade (Measured in Awesome to the Max’s):
4 out of 5