Indiana Pacers: David West, Power Forward (2011-15)
In eight seasons with the then-New Orleans Hornets to start his career, David West developed into one of the better power forwards in the NBA. A two-time NBA All-Star, he averaged 19.2 points and 8.0 rebounds per game over his last six campaigns with the team.
When it came time to decide in the lockout-induced extended free agency period of 2011, he was looking for more than a place to put up a nice stat line. More than anything else, the former 18th overall pick wanted to win.
He nearly ended up with the Boston Celtics, but ultimately wound up a member of the Indiana Pacers, a team coming off their first postseason appearance in four years. West was a terrific post presence and pick-and-pop threat, but it was his style and mentality that helped shape the Pacers identity.
Throughout his tenure in Indiana, the Pacers were one of the best defensive teams in the league, built on a rough and physical style reminiscent of the squads from the 1990s.
West wasn’t the focal point, but his broad 250-pound frame was the perfect complement between elite defensive players such as Paul George and Roy Hibbert.
The NBA hadn’t yet fully gone small, forcing traditional power forwards to matchup with West. While the four-spot was their niche, few if any could contend with him in the paint, forming one of the most physically imposing frontcourts alongside Hibbert.
Indiana would qualify for the second round before improved play had them in back-to-back conference finals. The Pacers were close in 2013, having taken the Miami Heat seven games, but an inconsistent offense couldn’t make up for however well they played at the other end.
West would average 14.0 points and 7.0 rebounds per game during his time in the Hoosier State, but it was his presence that did the most work. Not many players find a team that best suits their preferred style. West found his on a team littered with those who flew under the radar just as he did, and the Pacers were certainly better for it.