Faried impressed Nuggets with relentless hustle, effort
For three cold days in Morehead, Ky., Nuggets scout Herb Livsey waited for Kenneth Faried to sneak in a breather.
At some point, Livsey figured, Faried would surrender just one rebound without a fight, concede an uncontested basket or decline to dive for a loose ball.
After all, this wasn’t a nationally televised NCAA Tournament game, or even an Ohio Valley Conference game. This was just practice in the anonymity of January.
“He never took a possession off,” Livsey said. “It was constant, from the time he came on the floor until the time he left. I was there three days and never saw him let up. He could’ve been the mayor of Morehead if he wanted.”
The campaign to bring Faried to Denver picked up momentum when Morehead State upset Louisville in an NCAA Tournament game in March, and it Twittered to a fever pitch when the Nuggets went on the clock with the 22nd pick in Thursday’s NBA Draft.
With his trademark dreadlocks and indefatigable floor game, Faried has buoyed a fan base and appears to be a perfect fit for a Nuggets team looking for consistent defense and rebounding. Because of his toughness and scrappy play, people tend to forget that Faried can score a little bit, too; he averaged 17.3 points on .623 shooting as a senior.
“Most people think I can just rebound,” Faried said. “I do want to average a double-double. When I do, a lot of people who know I can score, it won’t be a surprise to. A lot of people it will be a surprise to. I’m just ready to play.”
Livsey, one of the NBA’s most respected scouts, believes in Faried’s preparedness. Rebounding historically transfers well from college to the pros, and Faried’s heart and desire became apparent during his extended visit to Kentucky.
Morehead State’s training staff said they often had to hold Faried back for his own good when he was dealing with the standard aches and pains of the college season.
“Even if he’s injured, nothing stops him,” Livsey said. “They have to monitor him because he goes so hard.”
The Nuggets saw that same tenacity when Faried worked out at the Pepsi Center on June 8, and they were impressed with his maturity during predraft interviews.
After four years of college, Faried could be ready to make an instant impact for Denver. Nuggets power forward Kenyon Martin is an unrestricted free agent, but he could return to serve as a mentor for a 21-year-old that is willing to work hard to improve his game.
“I wouldn’t say (Faried’s arrival) diminishes the chances of re-signing Kenyon,” Nuggets President Josh Kroenke said. “We’ve had continued dialogue (with Martin) since the end of the season. I wouldn’t say anyone we drafted was a replacement for anybody on our roster, whether they are a free agent or not.”
Along with Faried, the Nuggets added two other young prospects by acquiring the rights to No. 26 pick Jordan Hamilton, a wing player out of Texas, and No. 56 pick Chu Chu Maduabum, a forward from Nigeria.
As part of the Hamilton deal, the Nuggets also received veteran point guard Andre Miller and a second-round pick from the Portland Trail Blazers in exchange for Raymond Felton.
Felton played well for Denver after arriving as part of the Carmelo Anthony trade, but he was seeking a team that would give him the opportunity to be a starter.
“Raymond was great for us. We want to thank him for everything he did here,” Nuggets Executive Vice President of Basketball Operations Masai Ujiri said. “He was huge for us when we made that trade. We wanted to get an equal type of leadership, someone who would come here and mentor some of these young guys, but who can still play. We’re excited about Andre coming back here.”
The Nuggets’ next priority will be negotiating a contract extension with center Nene. Kroenke and Ujiri have been in regular contact with Nene and his agent in the past few weeks. The nine-year veteran has until June 30 to opt out of the final year of his contract and become an unrestricted free agent.
“I can’t comment any further, but Nene is a player that we want to have here for a long time,” Kroenke said. “He has been a backbone of ours for the last several years, and I think he is a big part of our future.”
After watching Kroenke and Ujiri work their magic on draft night, Nuggets fans have to feel good about the franchise moving forward.
The future is indeed bright.