Hamady N’diaye only played eight minutes, 37 seconds in his Summer League debut with the Washington Wizards. He barely made an impression on the box score. He took one shot, missed it, had one rebound and one turnover. “H” almost had a sweet dunk, but got excited and traveled. He also got a 3-second defensive lane violation called on him.
Most would look at the box and think “Yuck, but that’s a late second round pick (No. 56 to be exact) for ya.” So why do I like Hamady so much? Let me explain.
No, N’diaye didn’t ‘wow’ me yesterday. And it’s just one Summer League game on his long journey to become a contributor on the court. But if my observations are true, Hamady has a solid foundation constructed in just over six short years of playing competitive basketball.
First, as much as I bragged about John Wall’s communication, I should do the same with N’diaye. I’m willing to bet that four years spent at Rutgers, where he acquired a degree in communications, helped him hone his verbal skills. He knows that it’s the center’s job to be that defensive anchor, to see what his teammates might not see and to let them know.
“That’s natural to me. I want to talk and make sure everyone follows the example,” said N’diaye after Sunday’s game. “That’s the one thing I can do is really play defense and one thing defense is you gotta talk. If I start talking I know the rest of my teammates are going to follow and I want to make sure I’m the loudest on the court.”
Second, and I want to pay attention to this more in the coming games, but N’diaye hits first when putting in work on the glass. He’s not afraid to throw his frame into the scrum under the paint. In blocking out, Hamady makes the initial contact, something which is usually lost on the likes of JaVale McGee. McGee recently said N’diaye reminded him of a young him (even though “H” is older), but perhaps JaVale should actually try to emulate the new kid on the defensive end.
Third, I was impressed Hamady’s defensive footwork. He always keeps his dogs moving, not letting them get caught in quicksand, and sprints to the correct help position. He’s quite nimble for his size and has more awareness that you’d anticipate (again, for a kid from Senegal who hasn’t been playing organized basketball for very long). This observation didn’t go lost on Bullets Forever’s Mike Prada either. He writes:
Hamady Ndiaye also impressed me today, particularly with his defense. I figured he’d be little more than a long shotblocker like JaVale, but he’s really much more than that. He’s got really quick feet, always knows where he needs to be defensively and is always talking to people making sure they’re in the right spots. He played only eight and a half minutes for some reason, but I don’t think I saw one defensive mistake out of him.
I spoke with N’diaye after the game: