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The Hoop Doctors

Delonte West Deserves to Play in the NBA

dfavale January 24, 2013 Dan Favale 2 Comments

Delonte West is chock full of baggage, but I remain surprised that he has not found a new home in the NBA.

Since unceremoniously departing from the Dallas Mavericks, West really hasn’t been linked heavily to any teams. The Los Angeles Lakers toiled with signing him for awhile, but ultimately passed. Aside from them, that’s really been it.

But then the Memphis Grizzlies pulled the trigger on a salary dump-inspired trade that left them with some roster spots to fill. This could have been the ticket back to the Association West had been waiting for.

Or not.

According Marc Stein of ESPN.com, West is anything but a lock to join the Grizzlies and may, in fact, opt to spend some time in the D-League:

Former Dallas Mavericks guard Delonte West, out of the NBA since his release in November, has entered the D-League’s player pool, according to sources close to the situation.

Sources told ESPN.com on Wednesday that the Memphis Grizzlies are still weighing whether to sign West to a 10-day contract this week.

But if the Grizzlies pass, West would be eligible to join the team at the front of the D-League waiver line, which sources say is the Donnie Nelson-owned Texas Legends, Frisco-based affiliate of the Mavericks.

Sources say that West hopes to play his way back into the league just like Mike James did earlier this month, earning a call-up from the Mavericks after a brief but successful stint in Frisco. James is nearing the end of his second 10-day contract with the Mavs and, according sources, is a strong possibility to be signed for the rest of the season next week.

Color me incredibly shocked.

Again, I get that West has had more than his fair share of problems and could be a potential locker room cancer, but he’s worth the risk. Not only does he come cheap, but he can have an impact on both ends of the floor. Even the Dallas Mavericks would attest to that.

West has averaged double-figure point totals just three times in his career, but he’s converted on less than 35 percent of his three-point attempts only once. Just last season he averaged 9.6 points on 46.1 percent shooting overall and 35.5 percent shooting from beyond the arc. That’s quite an offensive weapon to have.

Bear in mind that West can also run the point in a pinch. He has a great handle on the ball and is no stranger to dribbling through traffic. His court vision isn’t Rajon Rondo-like, but his 4.7 assists per-36 minutes last season are more than enough for a backup point guard to get by.

And then there’s his defense.

He’s an exceptional perimeter defender who is still capable of locking down some of the most elusive and potent of outside scoring threat there are. Not unlike Tony Allen. Which is why I’m surprised the Grizzlies, among other teams, haven’t jumped at the opportunity to bring him into the fold.

While in Dallas last season, not only did West average 1.3 steals per game, but (per 82games.com) he held opposing point guards to a below average PER of 14.2 per-48 minutes. More importantly, the Mavericks allowed just 100 points per 100 possessions with him on the floor, compared to 103.5 with him off. So it’s not like his impact can’t be measured in the box score.

Understandably a contender like the Grizzlies may be wary of disrupting the on and off court cohesion with West’s addition, but given that West may be operating on his last chance to get it right at the NBA level, there’s never been a better time for an organization to invest in West. Especially one that prides itself on strong defense and is in dire need of some three-point shooting. Anyone else surprised the Minnesota Timberwolves haven’t called?

That West has been unable to find a new team boggles my mind. He stands to be a difference maker who could put a contender or fringe playoff team over the top.

And that in itself, is cause enough for any team—not just the Grizzlies—in need of a competent perimeter presence to pick up the phone and end West’s extended leave of absence.

Dan Favale is a firm believer in the three-pointer as well as the notion that defense doesn’t always win championships. His musings can be found at Bleacherreport.com in addition to TheHoopDoctors.com. Follow @danfavale on Twitter for his latest posts and all things NBA.

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