Faried joins elite company in latest big night for Nuggets
Denver forward records performance to rival Barkley, Mourning, Pippen
“I said he could be a Charles Barkley-type of player,” Lawson recalled. “He can get (the rebound) off the rim and take it coast-to-coast. Undersized, has a lot of energy. That was my comparison about two years ago. He’s finally living up to it.”
Faried put his name in the same company as the Hall of Fame forward Barkley by posting 34 points and 13 rebounds in less than 27 minutes Wednesday against the New Orleans Pelicans.
Barkley, Alonzo Mourning and Scottie Pippen achieved those numbers in less than 29 minutes on the court, but Faried raised the standard of efficiency after going 14-of-19 from the field in two fewer minutes.
The performance was hardly a flash in the pan; over his past 18 games, Faried is averaging a double-double of 20 points and 10 rebounds.
“It hasn’t surprised me,” Nuggets coach Brian Shaw said. “He’s still a young player. We’re seeing him develop right before our eyes. You can just see him light up and start to grow and believe in himself.”
Faried, nearing the end of his third season, has shown noticeable improvement with his touch around the basket and at the free-throw line. He also has earned more freedom to handle the ball and lead the fast break when he corrals a defensive rebound.
The production is a byproduct of his dedication on the practice court.
“He comes in and works. He’s coachable,” Shaw said. “He’s getting experience out there on the floor and succeeding in areas that he’s struggled in before. That’s making him supremely confident. When you have that, the game kind of starts to slow down for you.”
It wasn’t a coincidence that the game started slowing down for Faried after the NBA trade deadline in late-February. Though the trade rumors were just that, he felt a certain unease until the deadline passed.
“I was nervous,” he said. “I didn’t know if I was going to be here. When I knew I was staying, I came out with the burden off my shoulders.”
And when Faried performs well, his team tends to be successful – particularly at home. The Nuggets are 35-4 at Pepsi Center when he records a double-double.
“I always knew I could play at this level and really perform and get better each and every year,” he said. “That’s what I did, and it shows as of late.”