Charles Barkley, six feet, six inches.
Dennis Rodman, six feet, seven inches.
Charles Oakley, six feet, eight inches.
Ben Wallace, six feet, nine inches.
The best offensive rebounders of the NBA’s last twenty years have this in common: none of them are close to seven feet tall, and none are centers.
Kenneth Faried, six feet, eight inches, power forward.
Consider the Worm, the Round Mound of Rebound, Oaktree, and Big Ben. How did they get to those loose balls that drove opponents insane? What made them so impossible to box out? What rare abilities did they possess which few others possessed? It helps to be strong. Faried can bench press 325 pounds. It helps to have long arms and big hands. Faried measured a 7-foot wingspan at the NBA draft combine in 2011, and a standing reach of 9 feet, higher than many taller draft-hopefuls. It helps to have Rodman’s quick-springs, the ability to jump before others, the instincts to know when to tip the ball to yourself or teammates and when to snatch it yourself. What coaches cannot teach their players: rebounding is equal parts fearlessness, ferocity, insistence, grit, and heart. If you know that the only way you’re touching the ball is to go and get it, you better go and get it. Like Rodman and Ben Wallace before him, Faried has come out of nowhere and grabbed the attention of the NBA through sheer force of will. He has been dubbed “The Man-imal,” because of this tenacity.
After leading the NBA in offensive rebounding rate last year, despite barely seeing the court in the season’s first month, Faried is gradually improving his post defense and around-the-basket moves. Though awkward with the ball, Farield’s impact is based in hitting the offensive glass. Through the first seven games of the Nuggets season, Faried is the best offensive rebounder in the league. With 5.6 offensive rebounds in 29.4 minutes per game, Faried’s relentlessness is paying off and causing twenty one GMs to shake their heads. Faried, the 22nd overall pick in the 2011 draft, recorded the most rebounds (508) in a single NCAA season since 1974 in his senior year at Morehead State. Despite his collegiate success, Faried waited until the Nuggets took him late in the first round. Now he’s single-handedly turning games around for George Karl while the Wizards wait to see if Jan Vesely or Chris Singleton can contribute anything off the bench. After watching him manhandle the Warriors on Saturday night, the question comes to mind: Is it possible to be both dominant and underappreciated? Kenneth Faried’s performance on Saturday night in Oakland was dominant. Is he underappreciated? His current contract says so. With every team Denver beats this year, the casual NBA fan will begin to know just who this Kenneth is.
Last April, Faried annihilated Golden State for 27 points and 17 rebounds in 24 minutes. When I say annihilated, I mean Faried’s +/- of +33 in 24 minutes was absurd. The Warriors, playing without a legitimate defensive-minded big-man (David Lee and Andris Biedrins), were crushed by 123-84 in that contest.
Last night, with the Nuggets playing their fourth game in five nights, Faried’s boundless energy was ever-present. Despite Oakland being the final stop on a four-game road trip (all wins), Faried finished with nine offensive rebounds and caused numerous, “Fah-REED!” moments of frustration from the Warrior faithful. Carl Landry, the Warriors unsung hero and another member of the league’s most overlooked and underrated players, had another excellent game himself.
A look at their numbers:
With Andrew Bogut on the sidelines, Faried kept the Nuggets in the grind-it-out game through tips, put-backs, and deflections. With his work on the glass, the Nuggets withstood Golden State’s renewed defense and solid offensive nights from David Lee and Carl Landry. The 107-101 double-overtime loss was especially tough for the Warriors to swallow after building a five-point lead with just over a minute left. The Nuggets, buoyed by Faried’s determination, refused to be denied. Faried and Ben Wallace? Big Ben would be proud.