In the fourth quarter of the Hornets’ win over the Mavs last Sunday, Byron Scott helped neutralize Dirk Nowitzki by going with a small lineup: David West was moved to center, and James Posey went to the four, where he held Dirk to just four points down the stretch. Before that, Dirk had dropped 25 points through the first three quarters.
It wasn’t the first and it won’t be the last time Scott played West (20.8 ppg, 8.5 rpg) at center. With Tyson Chandler dealing with injuries all year, Hilton Armstrong still producing inconsistently, and Melvin Ely and Sean Marks being, well, Melvin Ely and Sean Marks, West is the team’s most dependable big man and rebounder, even if he’s undersized for the five spot at 6-foot-9.
The smaller lineup has worked on occasion, like against Dallas, but it’s not something Scott should rely on too much in the playoffs. And, it turns out West isn’t a big fan. From New Orleans Times-Picayune columnist John DeShazier:
There’s no long-term future in it for the All-Star forward and no long-term benefits in it for the Hornets. It’s a recipe for disaster if opponents have enough time to exploit it, and the longer New Orleans goes with it, the more likely that’s going to happen.
But short-term, in small spurts, against certain teams during the playoffs? It might be about as good as the Hornets can get this postseason, and it will be, especially if Chandler isn’t available.
“Coach is going to go with the guys that want to be productive and play hard,” West said Sunday, after playing center most of the second half.
West isn’t whining and crying about it, and he didn’t say anything on record that was so bad. DeShazier describes West as “nothing less than a consummate pro” in dealing with the move, but also makes it clear West doesn’t like playing center. He writes that West “isn’t crazy about” the move, and opens the column with this:
No need wasting time, energy and words trying to describe how much David West enjoys playing center for the Hornets.
Can the Hornets win a series without an effective Tyson Chandler in the lineup?
Source: New Orleans Times-Picayune