Much of the hype around Paul George‘s breakout season for the Indiana Pacers has masked the brilliance of David West.
West is currently having his best season at the age of 32 as he leads all Pacers in Player Efficiency Rating, and has been a major component to Indiana’s success. The Pacers offense has been slightly below average this season, but would be significantly worse without West. Indiana lacks penetrating point guards, making West’s effective pick-and-pop game and creativity at the free throw line area that much more critical.
Unlike their offense, Indiana’s defense ranks at the top of the league in most meaningful categories, and part of that can be accredited to West. Most NBA offenses are pick-and-roll heavy, and West’s hard hedging against that action has been key to the Pacers’ defensive scheme.
Whenever opposing offense’s bring West out to defend the screen-and-roll, he jumps out to the ball handler hoping to cut his drive off and force him to the sideline or baseline, or at least stop the guard’s momentum so his teammate can get back to the ball. While Roy Hibbert’s length at the rim gives West more freedom to be aggressive on the perimeter, his excellent pick-and-roll coverage is one of the reasons Indiana’s defense is a nightmare for opposing offenses.
The real decision comes this off-season for the Pacers, though, as West’s contract comes to an end. Indiana must feel good about their chances of signing West back on at a reasonable price considering they didn’t shop him at the deadline, suggesting there’s no fear of losing him.
West will be 33 next season, but he’s a highly-skilled power forward that doesn’t rely on athleticism, and those types of players usually age well. Signing West to a two or three-year deal should be the top priority for Indiana’s front office this summer.
Brandon Curry is an NBA columnist for Rant Sports. Follow Brandon on Twitter @ByBrandonCurry