David West has become a real leader for the Pacers.
The team is thrilled to be sitting near the top of the Eastern conference with a 39-24 record. They are just half of a game back from the New York Knicks for the No. 2 seed in the conference.
A lot of the success this year has come from having a real leader on the floor. Since joining the Pacers last season, West has begun to establish his role as the veteran on the team, and the rest of the roster is benefiting from this.
There are plenty of things to look at to prove that West is a true leader, but there are a few that really stand out.
West is the oldest player for the Pacers.
West is the oldest player on the Pacers by a rather wide margin. His age has helped him accept the role as the team's true leader.
Surprisingly, West is the only player for the Pacers who is older than 30. At 32, he is nearly three years older than Danny Granger, who turns 30 in April.
In his tenth season, West is being asked to be the veteran who leads this team through the difficult stretches of the season. After playing with the New Orleans Hornets for eight years, he certainly knows a thing or two about tough times.
West is very close to being the Pacers' leading scorer.
For people who don't follow the Pacers as closely, they expect Paul George to be the dominant leading scorer for the team.
They are right that he's the leading scorer, but it's really close.
West is actually right next to George in the scoring category. While George is averaging 17.6 points per game, West is right behind him at 17.5. In fact, one big game by West could put him at the top in scoring for the team.
What's more impressive is West's scoring efficiency. He's shooting 49.2 percent from the field with a true shooting percentage of 54 according to Basketball-Reference.com.
The scoring has been a big boost to this team with Roy Hibbert struggling on offense. Thanks to his efficient scoring, the team is beginning to be more consistent on offense.
West's defense is some of the best in the NBA.
The Pacers have the best defensive squad in the NBA. They allow 89.7 points per game, the second lowest in the league. They also hold their opponents to 41.6 percent shooting, which is the best mark in the NBA.
One of the bigger reasons for that has been the great defense of David West. He does a good job containing other power forwards, and his numbers show that.
According to Basketball-Reference.com, West has a defensive rating of 97.7. That mark is the sixth best in the league and the second best by a power forward.
The team has done a phenomenal job on defense this season, and West is a big factor in that. This kind of defense can help lead this team to a deep playoff run.
West doesn't get injured easily.
What makes West even more of a leader is the fact that he is almost always on the floor.
In the two seasons with the Pacers, West has missed a total of one game. He failed to miss a single game last season and missed one game this years against the Charlotte Bobcats in February.
The minutes have also gone up this year from last. He averaged only 29.2 minutes per game last season, but he is now at 33.4. A jump in over four minutes per game is pretty impressive considering the fact that he is the oldest player on the team.
With injuries devastating so many other teams and players, it's always nice to see someone who is able to stay healthy and keep playing. He may be 32, but West has shown no signs of slowing down this year.
West is pretty confident in late games.
West might now be the first player you think of when talking about players who can close games, but he has certainly done a good job of that this season.
A good example of this was the game against the Chicago Bulls on March 3rd. The Pacers held only a two-point lead over the Bulls to begin the fourth quarter, but the team held on to win. West was a big reason for that, scoring 10 points in the final period.
West does a good job of picking his game up late in games and finds ways to make key shots. He may not be the one called upon to take a game-winning shot, but he finds ways to take games out of reach. It's that kind of play that makes a true leader for a team.