West Doing It With Defense
Hornets power forward David West is a two-time all-star selection. However, the all-star nods were a result of his lethal mid-range jumper and all around outstanding offensive game. Defense was never West's strong point...until now. John Reid of the Times Picayune has more.
With Hornets Coach Monty Williams’ mantra starting and ending with defense, and West’s willingness to buy in, the 6-foot-9 power forward from Xavier of Ohio is arguably having his best overall season since entering the league in 2003 as a first-round pick.“I think he exemplifies what you want in a basketball player,’’ Hornets General Manager Dell Demps said. “He comes to work every day. He has a blue-collar approach with a very high skill package. He comes to win and makes big plays down the stretch. He leads by example, and we’re very happy to have him in the organization.’’
Williams said the surprising Hornets (27-16) wouldn’t be where they are now — on a six-game winning streak and in the Western Conference playoff race — without West.
“David has embraced everything,’’ Williams said.
West said Williams didn’t have to make a hard sell the first time the player met his new coach at West’s offseason home in Raleigh, N.C., last summer.
“You know, in terms of his basketball I.Q. and the guys on his staff, they were able to come in and implement a system that we felt confident (with),’’ West said. “He made defense our starting point.’’
Williams said he told West he wanted more assertiveness on defense.
“When training camp started, we did more than just run up and down the floor playing,’’ West said. “Coach had us sit down and watch film, and we discussed how we were going to approach things defensively as a team.’’
It appears West is now a better help defender and also is aggressive on the boards — and he still can rely on his slick offensive game. Despite missing six of his first seven shots Wednesday night, West finished with 19 points, 11 rebounds, three blocked shots and a steal.
“Physically, I don’t know if there is anything else I can add to my game,’’ said West, who is averaging 19.0 points and 7.3 rebounds this season, which statistically is on par with last season. “But mentally, I definitely jumped a couple of notches. I’m savvy in being able to adjust to guys on the wing and talk out every single possession. I’ve matured. I tune in to what we talk about in the scouting report. I make adjustments.’’
Spurred by its defense, New Orleans is yielding 92 points a game, the second-lowest total in the league. The Hornets are forcing an average of 14.3 turnovers and limiting opponents to 44.2 percent shooting.
The Hornets have won 11 of their past 15 games, and overcame deficits of 12 or more points in three of their past four wins.
David West deserves to make his third all-star game this year. With a logjam at the forward spot in the Western conference, West will probably be left off the roster. His quiet nature and lack of media coverage will be the main reason why. His game speaks for itself, and he's playing the best basketball of his 8 year career.