One of the key matchups in the upcoming series between the Denver Nuggets and New Orleans Hornets will be the battle between big men David West and Kenyon Martin. The good news for Nuggets fans is that we do not have to hope and pray that Kenyon can outscore West, because the chances of that are similar to the chances that the Celtics, Spurs and Blazers all lose at home on the first day of the 2009 NBA playoffs. Well, maybe that is not the best analogy, but you get the idea.
Kenyon is a superb defender, especially when he puts his mind to it and I think he will have a much greater chance for success than the previous postseason when George Karl chose to have him cover the NBA MVP Kobe Bryant.
He can move laterally as well as any power forward in the NBA yet can still hold his own in the post. Kenyon is far from an infallible defensive player, but a player like David West is right in his wheel house. The players Kenyon struggles with are ones who are either heavier or taller than him. Size wise both players are listed at 6’ 9” and 240 pounds and Kenyon is certainly capable of dealing with anything West can bring to the table.
Even so West will get his points. Despite not being blessed with explosive athleticism West is still a very good scorer. He is not a player you think of as taking you down to the block and abuse you, but if you do not respect his touch around the rim he can embarrass you. West is also a capable driver and will utilize spin moves and pump fakes to get a clear shot at the rim. However, his most effective weapon is his jumper. West can kill you without ever setting foot in the lane and that makes him a difficult cover.
Once again I have put together some video to see how these two matchup and I think the video shows what an even matchup it will be.
You will notice that all of those clips were of Kenyon covering West. It is vital that Kenyon keeps West from posting big scoring nights it is also important that this does not become a matchup that is only worth watching at one end of the floor. Kenyon is a capable scorer as well and he has the talent to put some points up on West himself. It seems to me that since his back and rib troubles Kenyon has not been going to the rim nether as frequently nor as effectively as he did earlier in the season. We have not seen much of his spin move and push shot from the lane and I think it is important that Kenyon make West work at both ends of the court.
The Hornets supporting cast is not good enough to afford a down series from West. Peja Stojakovic and Tyson Chandler look to be less than 100% and if West is held in check it will be virtually impossible for the Hornets to win. Over the previous two seasons against the Nuggets West has played in six games and only made 44 of 106 field goal attempts. That is only 42.3% and it is more than 5% lower than he shot over those two seasons.
If West only hits 42% of his shots over the next couple of weeks I think the Nuggets are a shoe in for the conference semifinals.