Top 50 NBA Players: #42 David West

David West
Resume: 17.1 points, 7.7 rebounds, 2.9 assists, 1.0 steal, 33.4 minutes, 50% FG, and 77% FT… Team record in games played: 43-30 (6-2 without)… Playoffs: 15.9 points, 7.6 rebounds, 36.3 minutes, 46% FG, 77% FT, 11-8 record

Remember back in June when the Indiana Pacers were just a single game from upsetting the soon to be back-to-back NBA Champions Miami Heat and advancing to the NBA Finals? The lion’s share of the credit for Indiana’s success went to Paul George (doing all he could to match the output of Carmelo Anthony and LeBron James in back to back rounds) and Roy Hibbert (who finally comprehended that when you are a 7’2 giant, you should play like it). You can’t take anything away from the contributions of George and Hibbert, but a sliver of credit needs to be tossed David West’s way.

May 5, 2013; New York, NY, USA; Indiana Pacers forward David West (21) is defended by New York Knicks forward Carmelo Anthony (7) at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Danny Wild-USA TODAY Sports

West acts as the “glue guy” that holds the Pacers together and allows things to run effectively in Indiana. There is a reason why he was given a three year, $36 million contract over the summer. West doubles as a key to the Pacers offensive attack and an enforcer who sets the tone for the Pacers rough and tough style. The offense can run through him in the high or low post. He can score with his back to the basket or facing up. He bangs bodies in the paint and never backs down from any kind of confrontation. He’s a consummate teammate and would beat the holy hell out of anyone given the chance. He’s a veteran who has run the gamut of being overrated, underrated, overrated, properly rated and maybe a little underrated again.

The defining David West story of the season came in the postseason, when on the verge of elimination David West played Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Finals with a reported 103 degree and upper respiratory infection. West fought like hell for 36 minutes on the floor, controlled the glass, helped the Pacers even the series at three games apiece, and earned some much deserved praise after the game.

“That guy is all heart, and it’s contagious. I don’t really have the words for it. His tank was on ‘E” from the time he came into this building this morning … It was evident once he got out there that he didn’t have anything in the tank.”

“We very grateful to have a player like that. That’s just David West stepping up to the challenge. And we still went to him, because we know David West, we’ll take David West any day. Sick or healthy. He just gave us his all.”

Those gushing quotes are from Pacers coach Frank Vogel and West’s teammate Paul George respectively. The one similar theme is that David West is one hell of a teammate. If your heart is contagious and teammates want to go to war with you even when you shouldn’t be playing in the game, you’re getting a spot in my Top 50.