One of those self-evident truths in the NBA is that the power forward position is always evolving.

Nowadays, these guys even come with their own pigeonholes. There are, to use the scout's vernacular, power 4s, post 4s, range 4s (stretch 4s), trench 4s (mucker 4s), athletic 4s and even playmaking 4s.

For decades, the hard-hat-and-lunch-pail guys like Gus Johnson, Bill Bridges, Dave DeBusschere (ask your father) defined the position, which required big biceps and a stout heart. Then Kevin McHale showed up, a 4-spot Mozart with an advanced understanding of post geometry that made everyone rethink the position. He gave way to some guy who looked like he jumped out of a comic book, Karl Malone, who combined a superhero physique and a self-made skill set that nobody had seen before.

Along the way, there were hybrids like Charles Barkley and Derrick Coleman and Chris Webber, who could bring a wing-walker's flair and playmaker's vision to the job, before Tim Duncan and Kevin Garnett taught us that skill and size will never again be mutually exclusive traits.

Such an evolution tends to make people overlook throwback guys like David West, the Jersey guy who may be headed for his third All-Star Game next month.

"He's just a beast," Frank Vogel, his coach in Indiana, said on Sunday. "That's the only way to put it."

That's sort of the point. We may associate the 4-spot these days with Kevin Love, who is changing its arithmetic. Or LaMarcus Aldridge, who seems like the prototype of the month. Or guys who run and jump with the stars across our TV screens every Sunday, such as Chris Bosh or Blake Griffin or Pau Gasol.

West? He is landlocked and unspectacular, but very refined in every area; a guy who is paid handsomely for the numbers he compiles and the leadership he provides, and one who makes no apologies for how it all looks.

But he is also ignored whenever there is a power forward debate, even though he might be having a better year than any of the others — an assertion based on how he keeps the Pacers within shouting distance of the top seed in the East, despite the year-long absence of Danny Granger.