“Everybody thinks it was about offense, learning how to score. But I think what is going to help me the most are the things that Hakeem showed to help me with defense.”
Those words speak volumes to the Dennis Rodman-esque impact Kenneth Faried has had with the Denver Nuggets defensively this season. Averaging just under a block and a steal per game, Faried has played a pivotal role in the team’s defensive resurgence as they currently 12th in defensive efficiency.
Hakeem Olajuwon was such a captivating offensive force it’s easy to forget he was a two-time defensive player of the year and the league’s all-time leader in shots blocked.
Perhaps the biggest asset in Olajuwon’s game was his incredible footwork, something which translates far beyond flashy spins and the “dream shake”. A truth which Faried alluded to:
“The footwork and me just doing the twirls and spins, learning how to keep my feet moving constantly are things that can make me a better defender.
“I can read people defensively and react to them or anticipate and get to a spot ahead of my opponent. And he showed me that I can get out there and play perimeter guys and still at the same time I can shut down the biggest bigs on the inside.”
An awareness he had on full display Nov. 7th against the Houston Rockets as a timely block on James Harden led the Nuggets to a narrow win.
So while obviously player affectionately known as “the Manimal” may never be a graceful presence around the rim on offense, we saw Faried record a two block, one steal performance against in a win over the Utah Jazz Friday night. The kind of performance we might starting growing accustomed to from in the Mile High City.