Denver Nuggets Player Review: Kenneth Faried

The Manimal took another step forward in second NBA season
by Aaron Lopez

Sophomore slump?

More like a sophomore surge.

After establishing himself as one of the top rebounders and hustle players as a rookie in 2011-12, Nuggets forward Kenneth Faried raised his game in his first season as a full-time starter.

Faried averaged 11.5 points and a team-leading 9.2 rebounds while shooting .552 from the field in 80 games. His 31 double-doubles tied for 16th in the NBA.

“He established himself as a player who can get a double-double every night,” Nuggets assistant John Welch said. “He’s on the scouting report now, yet he still has a huge influence on the game on the offensive boards.”

Faried’s talent, energy and effort earned him a spot in the BBVA Rising Stars Challenge during All-Star weekend in Houston. He scored 40 points and grabbed 10 rebounds to earn MVP honors.

Back in Denver, Faried kept putting up double-doubles to the help the Nuggets win 24 of 28 games after the All-Star break.

“I don’t think people realize how much he helps our offense,” Welch said. “When we were struggling early offensively, his offensive rebounds really kept us in a lot of games.”

Faried also worked on improving his 15-foot shot, but the Nuggets would prefer to have him causing problems in the paint.

“His strength for us is definitely to be around the basket,” Welch said. “It’s so important what he does for us with second chances. It makes a huge difference.”

Faried also made a huge difference off the court. His work in the community and stance as an advocate for gay rights were recognized when he received the 2012-13 J. Walter Kennedy Award for citizenship.

“I’m not really one that wants accolades for doing things that feel natural to me,” he said. “It comes easy just being a good person and supporting things. Seeing people’s smiles and being happy, that’s fine.”

Jan. 9 vs. Orlando Magic
Faried made a run at his first career 20-point, 20-rebound game, finishing with 19 and 19 in a 108-105 victory over the Magic. His final rebound was critical as he corralled an offensive board and called a timeout to set up a three-point play by teammate Ty Lawson.

Good things happen when Faried records a double-double at Pepsi Center. The Nuggets are 26-1 over the past two seasons when the Manimal has at least 10 points and 10 rebounds in front of the home fans.

2013-14 OUTLOOK
Faried continues to prove that hustle and hard work are bona fide NBA skills. They are contagious and never go into a slump. Because the foundation of Faried’s game is built upon relentless energy and effort, it’s reasonable to expect another step forward next season. He still needs to improve defensively, but a double-double average isn’t out of the question.