David West has long been one of steadiest power forwards in the league, helping Chris Paul anchor the New Orleans Hornets to a decent string of success (punctuated with a No. 2 seed in 2008 and near-miss on a trip to the conference finals). But as Paul appears to be on his way out, so to does West.
Should New Orleans opt to rebuild instead of rolling the dice on retaining CP3 until he becomes a free agent in 2012, it seems unlikely the Hornets will seriously bid on West, who is now 31 years old and will be looking for a substantial contract, perhaps reaching above $10 million a year. That means that West's outside suitors -- most notably the Indiana Pacers, hungry for a frontcourt scorer to match with Danny Granger -- should have limited competition from the incumbent team.
West suffered an ACL tear last spring as the Hornets pushed toward the playoffs, but he has worked back and will be eager to show teams that he's back in form. West has averaged at least 18 points per game in each of the last five seasons, peaking at 21 in 2009. He favors the mid-range jumper as much as any skilled four, yets maintains a typical shooting percentage near 50 percent. Only 14 players (guards included) took more long two-pointers per game than West last season; West shot those jumpers better than anyone who took more with the exception of Dirk Nowitzki.
Most of West's value stems from his scoring and shooting; he's only an average rebounder at power forward, a smart and physical but unspectacular defender and a limited playmaker who, all the same, avoids turnovers like the plague.
Whether he'll pay off for the team that lands him depends on where that pricetag lands and how completely he has recovered from the injury. He could be a player that really pushes a team to new heights, or he could quickly became some level of albatross.