Thursday, October 6

While compiling the “Annual NBA League Pass Rankings” for ESPN, Zach Lowe stated that the Denver Nuggets are still shopping forward Kenneth Faried after three years of no luck.

The bouncy, energetic forward is heading into his sixth season with Denver after being plucked in the first round of the 2011 NBA Draft. During his time in the Mile High City, Faried has remained consistent, and never got too high or too low. His whole career has been built off of violent attacks on the glass and a wild play style that earned him his “Manimal” nickname.

Despite starting 331 of his 348 career games, Faried has never been a mainstay rotationally despite being a solid rebounder and mildly productive offensive player. His issue is on defense. Per 100 possessions last season, the Nuggets’ opponents were +5.2 with Faried on the court–the offensive rating was 112 with him on, and 106.8 with him off, per Basketball-Reference.

I would say it’s a fluke and because he was dealing with injuries last year, but not once in his career has there been a negative point differential on the defensive end of the ball.

He’s not much of a rim protector, and despite being an outstanding athlete, he struggles to defend in the paint. Moreover, all of his athleticism is channeled vertically, not laterally. He can go up and bang home putbacks all game long, but staying in front of quicker guys isn’t his forte. Adding to this is his lack of polish which inhibits his offense.

It doesn’t matter that he’s an undersized power forward at 6’8, what’s important is that there is no versatility. Paradoxically, Denver’s offense runs smoothly with him on the court because most of his looks are easy ones. That’s where the energy comes in. The offensive glass isn’t safe, and he’s an excellent target in transition, whether it’s on a lob pass or as a trailer.

The Nuggets don’t like to run, though. With a pace of 98.16, according to NBA.com, Denver finished 14th in the league. It could be worse, but Faried isn’t a halfcourt player.

Because of a myriad of factors, Faried’s time in Denver should be nearing the end. If not, he’ll be relegated to a bench role and inserted when Mike Malone’s team needs an energetic boost. The emergence of both Nikola Jokic and Jusuf Nurkic make this even more likely. Both bigs have nice skill sets offensively and are just as productive on the glass as Faried. Furthermore, they’re better defensively.

Looking for the optimism in this situation, Faried is the kind of player that every team needs. Not only does he bring energy, but he’s also the glue guy who does all the dirty work and makes all the hustle plays. A decent team can get him for a bargain, and then use him in a small role to disrupt what’s happening on the court.

His contract is somewhat manageable despite there being three years left on it. Over those years, his payout will be about $12.8 million annually. That’s not too bad when you consider Timofey Mozgov got about $16 million a year.

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