Sometimes timing can be everything. Basketball is an ever evolving game. More so than any other major sport, a couple of great players with different styles can change the entire landscape of a game.
This can be incredibly beneficial to some.
When Steph Curry came into the spotlight, he almost single-handedly changed the way that teams view the three point shot. He paved a way for undersized players, who don’t have Russell Westbrook athleticism, to find their own impact on the game. Guys like Giannis and Ben Simmons redefined the point-forward position, something only Magic Johnson really made a superstar career out of.
The evolution of the game is great in this way, the league stays fresh, it remains exciting, and it grows the brand. But there’s another side to the coin. The league has become three point dominant, the power forward position has shifted to guys who can stretch the floor and knock down threes.
Guys like Dennis Rodman and Ben Wallace played in a much more physical era in basketball. Despite being undersized, their rebounding and defense made it so they could impact the game as much as anybody. But we know the league keeps moving forward, and it seemed like it moved too fast for Kenneth Faried.
Faried was drafted to the Denver Nuggets with the 22nd pick in the 2011 Draft. Coming out of Morehead State, the 6 foot 8 power forward set the NCAA Division 1 record for career rebounds (after 1973 when multiple divisions were established in the NCAA. Wilt Chamberlain was literally grabbing boards over guys that look like me). They called him “The Manimal” for his tremendous athleticism and relentlessness on both sides of the ball.
Faried had a great impact on the Nuggets from the jump, averaging close to 11 points and 8.5 rebounds per game coached by George Karl. Karl loved Faried, mostly because of who he reminded him of.
After game 6 of the 1996 NBA finals, when the Chicago Bulls defeated Karl’s Sonics team to claim their 4th championship, Karl was quoted as saying “I don’t know who won MVP or not, but Dennis Rodman won them two basketball games. Dennis Rodman was the reason they were successful”. Faried plays a game very similar to Rodmans: pure hustle.
Karl left the Nuggets after the 2013 season, and within two years the league was morphing into what it is today, with the primary focus being beyond the arc. Three point shooting was not in Faried’s arsenal, and it seemed as if the league evolved faster than he could.
His playing time with the Nuggets began to dwindle to the point where he only played 37 games last season, averaging 14 minutes per game. The Manimal, who started all but two games in his sophomore season in 2012, was vocal about his unhappiness with playing time and this season signed with the Brooklyn Nets.
Things didn’t improve for Kenneth as in only 12 games played this season, he averaged 5 points and 4 rebounds on a disappointing 10 minutes per game. He wasn’t a fit with Brooklyn, but the question really became whether or not he was a fit anywhere.
That is until the gods came down and tore the ligaments from Clint Capela’s thumb for 4-6 weeks. The Rockets were in need of an athletic big man, one who can run the floor in Houston’s fast-paced offense and rebound for James Harden.
Timing is everything.
Faried may very well be the perfect fit for this Rockets team without Clint Capela. He brings an energy and passion for basketball the same way Marcus Smart does for the Celtics. He impacts games.
Faried’s first game for the Rockets was last night in a loss to the 76ers where he contributed 13 points and 6 boards on 5-7 shooting in just 23 minutes. For the first time in years he looked like he was having fun playing basketball. He got a technical on the first basket he scored for being too excited about dunking:
He looks as athletic as he did coming out of college, even at 29 years old, throwing it down off a nice pick and roll from Harden:
Faried is looking to get into Houstons starting lineup quickly, which seems likely to happen soon, and begin making a significant impact in their playoff run. For a guy whose last few years have been filled with questions about where he can fit into the league, or if he can, you can expect nothing short of all the energy. Kenneth Faried is finally getting his shot to show the league what makes him The Manimal, and, for once, the league is not ready for him.
–Riley Banks (@rileybanks10)
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