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Houston Rockets 2018-2019 player recaps: Kenneth Faried

The Manimal was very good as a Capela-lite during the season, but with his struggles on defense and some likely interest in free agency, does he return to H-town?

NBA: Houston Rockets at Atlanta Hawks Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports

Kenneth Faried came to the Rockets in January after a buyout from the Brooklyn Nets and immediately revived a floundering career, using his rim-running skills and still formidable athleticism to fill in for an injured Clint Capela immediately after his arrival in H-town.

And though some out there thought Faried was cooked, The Manimal returned with a bang in his first 15 games in Houston.

He scored double-digit points in all 15 straight to start off his Houston career, averaging 15.8 points and 8.6 rebounds per game with 10 double-doubles during that time frame. His play helped keep the Rockets afloat without Capela, as Houston went 9-6 over that stretch.

Unfortunately, Faried could not keep up that early success, as he played in just 12 of Houston’s final 22 games due to injury, and of course, there was always the glaring defensive issues, which have plagued Faried his entire career.

His lapses on that end often stuck out like a sore thumb, and he finished in the bottom 5 percent of the league in post defense. It’s that major deficiency that had him mostly planted firmly on Mike D’Antoni’s bench in the postseason.

He did play in all 5 games against the Utah Jazz, but he averaged just 10 minutes per contest, well below his season average of 24.4. But against the Golden State Warriors, he played just 5 total minutes in the series.

With Capela struggling mightily against the Dubs, it’s a bit curious Mike D’Antoni didn’t turn to the Manimal to see if he could provide a spark. After all, Faried went for 20 and 10 back in February in a 6-point win over the Warriors. But with every possession magnified in the playoffs, the coach was obviously hesitant to see Faried potentially exposed relentlessly by Golden State’s offense. So I understand it. He would have had a big, red bull’s eye on his back for switches.

Faried finished the year averaging 12.9 points, 8.2 rebounds, and 0.8 blocks per game on 58.7 percent shooting, and with his contract up, he’s slated to become a free agent in July. His play in H-town has likely earned him some interest from other teams, so it remains to be seen if the Rockets will be able to keep him aboard.

They’ll likely need to dig into the MLE in order to sign him, and with the team also still interested in bringing back Austin Rivers and still chasing another wing, that might be tough to do unless they strike out on all their other potential free agency options.

Regardless, Faried was a pleasant surprise this year. He had some monster dunks, was a good dude in the locker room, and helped hold down the fort mid-season when things could have fallen apart. The Manimal is indeed back, whether it’s in Houston or elsewhere.