Breaking Down How David West Is One of the NBA's Most Consistent Players
David West is one of the most remarkably consistent players in the league. For his career, West averages 18.0 points and 8.1 rebounds per 36 minutes on 48.9 percent shooting, and those numbers have rarely deviated too far in either direction in any given season.
With the exception of the lockout-shortened 2011-12 season, he has averaged between 17.9 and 19.6 points per 36 in each season since 2005. His rebounds per-36 average has stayed in the 7.4 to 8.5 range in each season over that period of time, and his field-goal percentage has never dipped below 47 or risen above 51.
This consistency extends through his performance on his most preferred play type: the post-up. The following chart, compiled with data courtesy of the video tracking service, mySynergySports, shows West’s post-up numbers since the 2009-10 season (which is as far back as Synergy’s database goes).
Again, this is almost metronomic consistency from West. His points per play (PPP) average has stayed between 0.93 and 0.97, while his field-goal percentage has hovered in the 45 to 48 range. His league-wide points per play rank has fluctuated, but that’s only as the league has become less and less committed to and efficient at post-up plays.
Many of the league’s best post players today are bigger small forwards who spend a good amount of time playing the “4” spot—the LeBron James, Kevin Durant and Carmelo Anthony’s of the world. They are able to get by a lot of the time on a quickness advantage when being defended by power forwards, and a utilize a size advantage when being defended by small forwards.
West is more of a traditional power forward type, standing 6'9" and weighing 240 pounds. He’s quick, but not in the way James, Durant and Anthony are; he can’t just blow right by guys off the dribble when they crowd him. He’s big, but he’s not getting defended by slighter, quicker wings who sometimes check the James-Anthony-Durant types, so he can’t simply bully his way to the basket, either.
West has to get by on position, precision and guile, and he’s done so for years. He works his way to a spot he likes and almost never gets pushed off it. You’ll rarely see him catching and backing down from 20-plus feet out; every move he makes is polished and practiced. To produce as consistently as he does without obvious physical advantages, everything has to be precise.
Maybe the most impressive part of West’s 2012-13 season is how he has managed to maintain his per-play efficiency even with a fairly massive jump in usage. He’s using over 50 percent more post-up plays per game this season than last, and his field-goal percentage on such plays is exactly the same while his PPP average has stayed fairly consistent.
West prefers to operate from the right block. Forty-eight percent of his post-up plays originate on the right side, compared to 36 percent on the left (he gets the remaining percentage by “flashing middle”), per Synergy.
Once he receives the ball in the post, West always has a plan. That plan is usually to create enough space with which he can take a jumper, whether that be of the turnaround, step-back or face-up variety.
Though he can comfortably and capably turn in either direction, West prefers to work over his right shoulder and turn towards the middle of the court, which he does 59 percent of the time when posting up on the right block.
He displays excellent efficiency on jump shots of this nature, posting a 1.05 PPP. When turning over his left shoulder to the baseline, West is less efficient, but still solid with a 0.86 PPP (he’s 3-for-7). When facing up on the right block, which he does 17 percent of the time, he averages 1.0 PPP on 14 jumpers.
All together, he’s produced 66 points on 65 jump shots from the right block, good for 1.02 PPP, an excellent mark.
He’s got a nice rocker step he can use to create space, a good feel on when to take a step-back and when to lean into the shot, and an excellent two-dribble move where he darts toward the middle of the lane before dipping his shoulder, pulling back and going up for a straight up-and-down jumper.
His repertoire is not flashy, but it’s varied enough to keep defenses honest, and it’s incredibly effective. For an Indiana team that has struggled to score the ball (they rank 29th in offensive efficiency, per Basketball-Reference) this season due in large parts to the absence of Danny Granger and the recession of Roy Hibbert, West has been a rock—a guy they know that can count on for consistent production night in and night out.
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