After his third season in which he averaged a career-best 13.6 points per game to go along with 8.6 rebounds per game, the Denver Nuggets rewarded big man Kenneth Faried with a $50 million extension. Since then, Faried's numbers have steadily declined to the point where they are this season -- 6.6 ppg, 5.2 rpg in 16 minutes per game. All of those numbers are career lows and, since Nov. 20, he has received a DNP four times.
In short, Faried's role is subsiding in the Nuggets' frontcourt and coach Michael Malone didn't pull any punches in explaining why before last night's game against the Minnesota Timberwolves. While the hope was Faried would log some time while injured forward Paul Millsap recovers, that simply hasn't been the case, writes Gina Mizell of The Denver Post:
When asked why Faried has fallen out of the rotation, Malone gave a candid response.
“Our job is to win games, and we’re winning games right now,” Malone said during his pregame media availability. “Last 10 games, we have the third-best (defensive efficiency) in the NBA. We’re one of the best rebounding teams in the NBA.
“Right now, Kenneth is not part of the rotation. Obviously, things change in this business. But why would I play him over Nikola or Trey Lyles with how well they’re playing right now?”
Nikola Jokic is the centerpiece of Denver’s present and future, entering Wednesday averaging 16 points per game and leading the Nuggets in rebounds (10.1 per game) and assists (4.5). Lyles, meanwhile, entered Wednesday averaging 16 points and 5.3 rebounds over his past nine games and ranked fourth in the NBA in 3-point field-goal percentage (45.9). Mason Plumlee has also emerged as a defensive anchor and facilitator in the middle since being inserted into the starting lineup.