Masters of Their Craft: David West, professional power forward

USA TODAY Sports

David West is a pro's pro delivering regular lessons to his fellow forwards around the league in scoring in and around the paint.

The offending act is always subtle and normally dished out among the chaos around the rim or off the ball.

David West delivers lessons in quick bursts, but in the moment, opponents rarely see it as an educational opportinuty. Lower body leverage and various levels of contact are among the tools West uses to keep an athletic defender grounded. Like a chess master, West is setting up his opportunity a move ore two ahead and when his opponent tries to recover it’s too late.

Jump hook over the left shoulder? Count it.

Step-back fade away clearing a block attempt? Wet.

Got him covered? Send a little help? Oops, DWest drops an assist before anyone can recover.

Many are the ways David West can manipulate the half-court offensive attack for the Pacers. He's such a steadying, valuable influence there is no way the Pacers would be 32-21 at the All-Star break without him. And as the stakes rise, so does his level of play.

West turned in elite performances earlier this month, starting with 30 points in the Pacers recent win over the Miami Heat. West made 12 of 15 shots while confirming any lingering doubts around the league that the Heat will have to ride LeBron James to another title because they got nothin' in the front court.

A couple of nights later, West took everyone the Chicago Bulls threw at him and threw 29 points back as the Pacers won again. But my favorite West game this year came in Indiana's home win over the Houston Rockets.

Paul George made the headlines in that game for holding James Harden to 17 points on 19 shots. Harden was literally looking over his shoulder at times, spooked that PG was enticing a block opportunity. George also came up big at the other end, scoring 31 points to lead the Pacers offense.

But without West's 20 points and 11 rebounds, the Pacers may very well blow that game. Houston recovered from an early deficit and closed within one possession at the start of the third quarter. West gave a burst of energy to the Pacers to settle everyone down while scoring six points. Soon the lead was back up to double digits while West left Houston's Patrick Patterson, Greg Smith and Marcus Morris shaking their collective heads.

That trio joined the likes of Kenneth Faried, Thaddeus Young and other young big forwards left yelling at the ref and wondering how the abuse West is dishing out continues to go unnoticed while West stoically heads down to the other end of the floor.

DWest is indeed a master of creating space and scoring chances against bigger, more athletic defenders. West seems to thrive on taking the young fellas into the pro zone for a little lesson. This season West is averaging over 17 points along with three assists per game.

But numbers hardly describe the full impact West makes on the Pacers. How he goes about putting up those numbers is what makes him a treasure for the blue and gold and player Pacers' fans should appreciate every time he takes the floor.

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