One year after giving up more than ten million dollars to play for a title contender, David West moved from San Antonio to Oakland in search of his first ring. After gutting almost their entire bench to sign Kevin Durant, the Golden State Warriors were happy to acquire a rotation guy in West for just a minimum contract.
Though he was decent for the Spurs during the 2015-2016 season, he shined as a key part of the Warriors’ bench unit last year. By the end of the 2017 Finals, he proved to be the only traditional big man on the Warriors’ roster other than Draymond Green who could give the team quality minutes.
After mulling over retirement, West decided to return to the Warriors for one more season. As the oldest player on the squad, he’s brought key leadership to a team that’s so far been able to keep focus and manage egos along the path to greatness.
At age 37, West has lost some bounce and quickness. But Coach Steve Kerr manages his minutes very tightly to keep him in the best shape. Especially during the regular season, expect West to play sparingly and get many nights off.
Despite his lack of size and athleticism, West is one of the Warriors’ better defensive players, posting 1.7 Defensive Win Shares and a 3.9 Defensive Box Plus/Minus last season, both solid numbers. His positioning and communication are excellent. He’s always in the right place at the right time, and plays hard.
Offensively, he was an efficient low-volume shooter. His 76% free throw rate was valuable on a team that’s historically had so many big men who couldn’t shoot from the charity stripe. His mid-range shooting percentage was especially strong: he shot more than 50% from beyond 16 feet, phenomenal for such a “inefficient” shot type.
He was also an excellent passer, averaging 6.4 assists per 36 minutes, more than double his career average. In the Warriors’ dynamic offense, he was often a creator in the halfcourt, finding cutters and open shooters. He especially had chemistry with Ian Clark, who has since departed from the team. We’ll see if he develops a connection with one of the newcomers on the team; my money is on Omri Casspi.
Despite his limited minutes and small role on a team of superstars, David West is one of the best backup bigs in the league. In Game 5 of the 2017 Finals, on a court loaded with stars, West came in for eleven minutes and ended with a +16. Few other backup bigs in the entire NBA can do that. If he can do that again during the playoffs this year, the Warriors will be set.
It would be awesome for David West to win one more championship to cap off his long career. He’s a proven leader and an awesome teammate.