Monday, May 05, 2008

Let’s Keep It Real Here, We’re Not Gonna Win AKA David West Stings

Yep, everybody’s talkin’ ‘bout... how easily LA Lakes with KB24 swept and embarrassed Nugs. Jazz with D-Will outfought tougher-than-expected Rockets. Celts couldn’t get rid of Hawks ‘til G7. Pists turned on their engines when it mattered vs. Sixers. Magic with Dwight Superman dominated Raps. Cavs with LBJ eliminated Wizs in a smack-talk series. Spurs got Suns into oblivion.
...and how Hornets with CP3 flew past Mavs to the Semifinals...

...however, everybody keeps overlooking a real hero of NO Hornets. And it’s not Paul. It ain’t their mascot Super Hugo, either.

He’s 27-year-old leader. Again, Paul is the best Hornet. But David West (my buddy Valdes calls him ‘Stings’) is the real leader and soul of New Orleans basketball.

West attended and graduated from Xavier University, where he spent all four college years. (It’s not a typo, baby.) West was a four year starter and his jersey was retired immediately following his senior year in which he led Xavier to a #3 seed in the NCAA Tournament. West was named as a first team All-American his senior year and the 2003 Associated Press and United States Basketball Writers Association National Player of the Year, averaged 20.1 ppg. and 11.8 rpg. as a senior. West led Xavier to 94 wins in his four seasons while finishing as Xavier's all-time blocked shot leader (228 blocks) and second on XU's all-time scoring (2,132 points) and rebounding (1,308 rebounds) lists. West was also named as the Atlantic 10 Conference Player of the Year three years in a row.

So why he was still overlooked in the 2003 Draft? Noone knows.

West was drafted by Hornets, eighteenth overall. After two out-of-the-radar seasons, in 2005-06, West stepped up, averaging 17.4 points, 7.4 rebounds and .512 FG%, while starting all 74 games he appeared in. He came in second in voting for the NBA Most Improved Player Award for the 2005-06 season, behind Boris Diaw. He also saw some time at center, due to the team's lack of a true big man, while also showning clutch capabilities, converting three game-winning jump shots. The following season he ended with averages of 18.3 points, 8.2 rebounds and 2.2 assists. He also had five 30+ games and thirteen 20+ games, although he missed 30 games due to an elbow injury. West's powerful displays continued in 2007-08, as he increased his statistics again, and was chosen as a reserve player for the 2008 NBA All-Star Game.

You know this guy now, don’t you?

He’s got Xavier’s ‘X’ tattooed on his arm which displays, on either side, "My life, my way". His ‘DX’ nickname is a combination of his ‘X’ tattoo and the first letter of his first name, while he also claims to be the Hornets' X-factor.

Coming into the series with Spurs. We knew he’s very good. But we still overlooked him when things revolved around ‘The Best In The NBA’ lists. His PF’s regular season, 20.6 ppg/8.9 rpg/2.3 apg wasn’t considered as a wake-up call for NBA bandwagon fans. The truth is, while he’s not involved in the highlights that much, West is one of the league's best but least-known players. He does some of everything - averaged 22.6 points, 7.4 rebounds, 3.4 assists, and 1.6 blocks against Dallas. He's a terrific spot-up shooter and almost as good off one or two dribbles. He's adept at dribbling from open spaces and driving to the rim and will hit the jumper if his defender explodes away to prevent the drive. He'll post up anyone as well. He's definitely a tough matchup for anybody and plays with an enforcer's attitude. If Paul is out or struggling, Hornets look to West for leadership and scoring. He's very good on the other end as well as the team's best shot-blocker and he's very good at taking away his opponent's best stuff. Bottom line, he plays like a beast, but a very skilled and smart one.

I love West and his game and, overall, Hornets are a symphatetic bunch of guys (except for Wells, Bonzi), but I’m not so pleased that I see him on the floor when my Spurs are involved. And while his skills are superb, it’s his behavior and persona that are much more frightening. Simply, he’s an Anti-Amare. And that creates real troubles, dude. Look at Harvey’s column about ‘Stings’:

David molds David, and Spurs feel it
/abbreviated version/
By Buck Harvey

David West was always a Spurs fan. He loved David Robinson, and how Robinson handled himself, and West talked about that Sunday. This should make Spurs feel even older. Those who grew up liking them are now beating them. This should also worry Spurs. West is averaging 30 points this season in Hornets' wins over Spurs, and he isn't some airhead who will get caught up in the glory. He will also not throw a party and invite Josh Howard. West stayed in school for four years, and he believes in being steady and professional, and he doesn't care that few in the country realize how good he is. As role models go, Spurs have been too good. As defenders go, Spurs have not been so good. West did what he wanted to do Saturday; had he not started slowly, including missing a dunk, he might have gone for 40 points.

Few saw this coming, even after West was named the Associated Press' college player of the year in 2003, his senior year at Xavier. Coincidentally, that was the year Robinson retired. Also coincidentally, Robinson won the same award 16 years earlier. But whereas Robinson's size and athletic ability were undeniable then, West was seen as a 6-foot-9 power forward without much power. West heard the critiques, and some came firsthand. *I remember one NBA guy sitting me down and saying, ‘At your size, you're going to have to do something drastic - either gain 40 pounds to become a Danny Fortson, or lose 30 pounds to adjust playing on the wing.'* He went 18th in the draft behind, among others, players named Reece Gaines and Troy Bell. And when West showed up at his introductory press conference in New Orleans, he came with no jewelry and a small entourage. Only his parents and girlfriend were with him. *One of the things I like about David,* Tim Floyd, the then-Hornets coach said that day, *is he lists his favorite basketball player as David Robinson.*

West worked, and his 17-foot jumper became automatic. He could always rebound, and defenders have found that his splay-footed first step seems to always get him to the basket. Only Amare Stoudemire compares to West and his inside-outside combination, and West is surer and smarter. Little wonder West was an All-Star this year. And with the All-Star Game in New Orleans, West should have been impressed with himself then. He wasn't. During a media session he saw Robinson, and West walked over, waited his turn and introduced himself. He told Robinson how much he admired him, and he met his sons.

Asked about that Sunday, West smiled and implied the two had just bumped into each other. But a Hornets staffer who was there that day said West was more excited about meeting Robinson than anything else that weekend. West thought it had been *the coolest thing*. So why Robinson? *He was one of those guys that, regardless of what negative things people said about him, he was a winner,* West said Sunday. *He never got out of character in terms of what he was, who he was. He didn't let things around him get to who he is. He may not have said it, but I always got that from him.* West has thought of Tim Duncan and all of Spurs in similar ways. *They go about their business,* West said. *They don't have to be flashy, all the bravado and stuff. Just get it done.*

Now West has become the Robinson/Duncan of Hornets. No player has been with the franchise longer. But West might be the NBA's least-known star outside of New Orleans. Gregg Popovich addressed that Sunday. *For some reason, he continues to be this underrated guy.* Popovich should know the reasons by now. West doesn't play to the hype, and he doesn't work in a large market. These are all parallels Spurs would enjoy. Except for now. The one player they can't figure out also wants to be like them.

There you have it. You read the picks before G1 of Spurs-Hornets and everybody picks Spurs in 6. Or 5. Even the most experienced NBA experts and pundits overlook Hornets’ great team. So why? Because they don’t consider
DX as a top tier player. All the talk is about Paul and his chance of single-hanedly burning the champs. Look, I’am not sayin’ San Antone can’t win this series and advance. They can. And they should. But...

...after watching in our SPURROOM with my buds how Hornets glide past Spurs behind 30 points from West in G1... the hope seems dim for us.

Heck, we aren’t done yet. There’ll be no residue from fire-extinguishers on the floor, TD will bounce back strongly, Pop will counter with his new master-like game plan, Manu will be crazy and maybe, Bowen will get ejected along with Paul. That’s all good news. All we need is a split after these two games.

But there will be DAVID WEST (one of the best in the NBA and better player than Amare), too, tearing Spurs apart, probably buildin’ the foundation for another blowout of Spurs.

p.s.: c.j. watson of warriors: *one thing that shocked me was during a timeout coach nelson doesn't say nothing. he just sits there and rubs his head.*
p.s.2: i thought of a great trade last night as melo was doing everything but taking his clothes off during the second half of the lakers game... what about a trade with melo and josh howard as the principles? obviously dallas would have to throw in more because melo has more value than howard, but wouldn't that make sense for both teams? dallas gets a much needed scorer to team with dirk - denver gets a much-needed intangibles guy who doesn't care if he gets the ball and also has some good weed connections. everyone wins. (-bill simmons)

Posted by Foreigner in CS - May 5 2008 8:18PM


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