Kenneth Faried, of the Denver Nuggets, is entering his second season in the Mile High city and he is doing whatever it takes to avoid the traditional sophomore slump.
Faried is labeled as the steal of the 2011 draft, as he was picked up by Denver at the 22nd pick. Faried came to the NBA from Morehead State and many thought he would be too undersized to fully compete in the NBAat the power forward position.
He proved them wrong in his rookie season.
Although George Karl, head coach of the Nuggets, was forced to play Faried, Karl has embraced “Manimal” since then. Faried proved why he was an asset to the Nuggets during his rookie campaign. He has unlimited energy, bounce, infectious enthusiasm, passion, and he takes ever mistake he makes as a learning opportunity.
Faried was selected to the All-Rookie first team, came in third place in Rookie of the Year voting, and warmed hardened NBA hearts from around the globe.
He set records as a rookie such as the one exhibited on April 9, 2012 against the Golden State Warriors; he racked up 27 points on 12-for-18 shooting, 17 rebounds, 1 assist, 2 steals and 1 blocked shot in less than 25 minutes of playing time. Thus, Faried became the first player in the shot clock era to tally 27 points, 17 rebounds in 25 minutes or less.
He demonstrated how he can clean the glass offensively in two games, in which he garnered seven offensive rebounds: on February 29, 2012 against the Portland Trail Blazers and on April 9, 2012 against the Warriors.
He showed how he can take over any game as he did on March 17, 2012 when Karl inserted Faried in a close game between the Nuggets and the Boston Celtics. Denver ended up taking the win home, but it was Manimal who dazzled as he accumulated 18 points on perfect scoring from the field, and 16 rebounds.
It wasn’t just his production that fueled Denver’s engine, it’s his passion, and his endless energy I so often refer to; it engulfs the opponent and takes them by surprise. It’s what has allowed Denver fans to fall in love with the athletic power forward.
What can fans expect from Faried next season?
The aforementioned and more.
Last season, he averaged 10.2 points, 7.7 rebounds, and 1.0 block per game while hustling for 22.5 minutes per game. Keep in mind, he only played in 46 games last season, and of those started in 39. My friend, Joel, at Roundball Mining Company used metrics to predict minutes for the 2012-2013 season and it would seem Faried would see an average of 28 minutes of play this season.
This isn’t far off from my projections, as Denver has added and subtracted a few players from their ever-changing roster, thus Faried is still learning as all sophomores are. Although, it could increase to as much as 30-32 minutes, but anything less than 25 would be unacceptable for the aggressive player.
Also, he has spent time with Hakeem Olajuwon this summer, and while a few weeks isn’t going to perfect any post moves, it’s not going to hinder any development either. Faried may have developed some moves in the post or even a mid-range jumper, but critics and fans won’t know for sure until the season starts and continues.
My not-so bold prediction for everyone’s favorite “Manimal” is this: he will average a double-double this season, become a situated member of highlight reels, and with JaVale McGee and Danilo Gallanari on board, Denver’s frontcourt will be athletically awesome.