Editor’s note: This is a guest post from Ricky Sanders of FantasyBasketballMoneyLeagues.com. For more updates, follow the Fantasy Basketball Money Leagues Google+ Page, and for more information on Kenneth Faried stats, news and rumors visit Fantasy Basketball Money Leagues today!
For as talented as the “Manimal” Kenneth Faried is, he certainly can be maddeningly inconsistent. Partially caused by coaches’ erratic usage of him, Faried hasn’t been able to go on tears for extended periods of time. Something has happened since the All-Star break however; Faried is on a four game stretch where he’s played 32+ minutes and is scoring 16.3 PPG. Although he could use some work on defense, Brian Shaw seems to have finally decided to develop Faried. That’s why the team brought Shaw in. They wanted him to help the young players get better. Rifts between the two have come out in the media in subtle ways but I think both are finally ready to make this work. Big things could be ahead for Faried.
It’s pretty simple when it comes to predicting Faried’s success: when he sees big minutes, he produces better. If you look at his month-by-month production this season, his points per game coincide with the amount of minutes given to him. So far he has played 28.7 MPG in February and is scoring 14.0 PPG which is easily the highest this season. Just have a look at minutes per game vs. points per game in all the other months:
January: 27.2 MPG/11.5 PPG
November: 26.6 MPG/11.1 PPG
December: 19.9 MPG/8.1 PPG
October: 15.0 MPG/5.0 PPG (Only a one game sample)
Clearly we have a correlation here. Still don’t buy it? Interestingly enough, the same phenomenon almost occurred last season:
2012-13 Monthly Numbers
November: 31.4 MPG/13.4 PPG
February: 29.8 MPG/12.5 PPG
January: 29.0 MPG/11.6 PPG
December: 27.9 MPG/11.3 PPG
April: 25.0 MPG/9.7 PPG (Only a 6 game sample, which explains the outlier)
March: 24.5 MPG/10.1 PPG
October: 17.0 MPG/6.0 PPG (Again, only a one game sample)
Playing time is the only thing holding Faried back. As he plays more, he produces more. I mentioned his increased playing time post All-Star in the opening paragraph. In his last four games, Faried has played 32.5 MPG which has resulted in 16.3 PPG, 7.3 REB and 1.3 STL. From a fantasy standpoint, those numbers look awfully similar to someone like Greg Monroe. Right now, I rank a player like Monroe inside my top 60 for overall fantasy assets. Monroe only shoots 51.5% from the field, but assists more than Faried, so they really would be ranked similarly if Faried could continue these minutes.
How could Shaw not continue with this trend? Overall, Denver has lost seven of their last eight games and will not be going anywhere this season. Tanking teams tend to make decisions based on the benefit of their future. Faried’s competition for minutes right now is a crew that consists of J.J. Hickson, Anthony Randolph, Timofey Mozgov and Jan Vesely. I know what you’re thinking, “Not exactly the Dream Team.” With the team falling out of it, one would assume it’s all Manimal from here on out. The team just traded for Vesely but I highly doubt they acquired him assuming he’d be a starter. Basically, barring a coach’s bias, I can’t find a reason why Faried shouldn’t continue to see these big minutes. He’s the youngest, most talented big man on this team. Tanking team meets youngster needing playing time to develop equals a story that should write itself.
Are you worried that Faried’s latest boost in production correlates with Lawson’s absence? Obviously losing the team’s top scorer means there are points left to go around in his absence, right? Wrong. Faried actually has been more successful from a scoring standpoint in games Lawson has played. Lawson has missed the last six games due to fractured ribs. During that span, Faried is averaging 13.1 points per game. Overall for the month of February, Faried is averaging 14.0 PPG. What does this mean? It means he actually scores more points in games that include Lawson running the point. This is not a Dwyane Wade type situation where LeBron sits therefore he goes nuts. “Therefore” doesn’t apply. The only therefore I have found in the causation of Faried’s success is playing him big minutes……regardless of who plays around him.
Sporadic minutes, like big Ken had to deal with earlier this year, are nothing new to him. Of his first three seasons, last year’s 28.1 minutes a game are his career high. Regardless, Faried produces at a high level per minute. For his career, he averages 15.3 points per-36 minutes along with 11.5 REB, 1.2 STL and 1.4 BLK. Surprisingly, his rookie year actually was the most efficient; he averaged 16.4 PTS, 12.2 REB, 1.2 BLK and 1.6 BLK per-36 minutes (all career highs). A productive Nene, JaVale McGee and Kosta Koufos played on that team. As you can see, those numbers weren’t exactly outliers from his career as he has stayed close to those numbers throughout. Playing bigger minutes usually will even things out some especially because his rookie year was only 22.5 MPG. I love per-36 as a gauge for upside and you can see those are some fantasy friendly numbers. Faried is less than 4 MPG from a double-double with 1+ STL and 1+ BLK (if you look at his February uptick in minutes). To be fair, Faried’s 1.4 DWS (defensive win shares) are down from last year’s pace. Basically this means his defense hasn’t been as tough. Besides that argument, there is no downside to Faried as opposed to the others. Also, his win share percentage as a whole is down to .132, easily a career low. If you need DWS and/or WS% defined, visit this page. His per-36 numbers are better than all of the others I mentioned (besides Hickson’s rebounding). No matter who plays with him or who is giving him a run for minutes on this team, he is the best option at PF. Period.
Consistency has been Faried’s enemy throughout the course of his career but lately he has been turning that around. Why? One simple reason: more minutes. With minutes comes production for Faried. It’s just that simple. Amidst this four game stretch, he’s playing the best ball of his career. Fantasy owners need to take notice because he’s absolutely a must own with these kind of minutes. His upside stretches above Greg Monroe and actually dips into Andre Drummond territory if the minutes go higher. Will that happen? Remains to be seen but do not forget about this man-child. His efficient, fast-paced and exciting brand of basketball is exactly why both Nuggets fans and fantasy owners love the “Manimal.”