Editor’s note: This is a guess post from Justin Becker of FantasyBasketballMoneyLeagues.com. You can follow the Fantasy Basketball Money Leagues Google+ Page, and for more NBA Rumors visit Fantasy Basketball Money Leagues – a fantasy basketball blog.
Many people are questioning whether the Denver Nuggets should trade Kenneth Faried this offseason. Simply put, no they shouldn’t. Let me tell you why I think giving up on Faried would be a huge mistake. He has a lot to offer, especially to a Denver Nugget team that needs excitement.
Many people feel like they should trade Faried because he struggled in the first half of the season. Good news for Nuggets fans, he started to show his true colors after the All-Star Break. He has been striving off big dunks and rebounding, but it seems like everything else is falling into place as well. With each scoring outburst, we are constantly being forced to re-evaluate Faried’s NBA ceiling.
Ever since the All-Star festivities ended in New Orleans, Kenneth Faried has decided to start playing to his full potential. Before the break, Faried was a semi-disgruntled power forward locked in a struggle with Brian Shaw that revolved around style of play. But after the break, he has been completely focused and playing very well and dominant. Let’s take a look at his before break stats and after break stats and check out how they compare.
Pre All-Star break, Faried was really struggling to wow his coaches and fans. In the 49 games he played, he averaged 24.7 minutes per game, which is definitely enough time for him to produce. He was shooting around 54 percent from the field, scoring an average of 10.4 points per game. He also averaged 2.7 offensive rebounds per game, 4.8 defensive rebounds per game (7.6 rebounds per game), one assist per game, one block per game and 0.7 steals per game.
Post All-Star break, Kenneth Faried figured it was time to step up. In the 26 games he has played since, he has averaged 30.8 minutes per game, an increase due to stellar play. He increased his field goal percentage to 55% and shot 72% from the free throw line, compared to 59 percent pre all-star break. His scoring load per game has been the biggest increase, averaging 18.6 points per game post all-star break. He also increased his offensive rebounds per game to 3.1, defensive rebounds per game at 6.4 (9.5 rebounds per game), assists per game at 1.6 and steals per game to 1.2. The only thing that dropped were blocks per game, which went from one to 0.8 blocks per game.
Since the all-star break concluded, Kenneth Faried had 12 games scoring 20 or more points. Two of those 12 games were for over 30, scoring 32 against the Lakers and 34 against New Orleans. He has also had 12 games grabbing 10 or more rebounds, including a 16 rebound night against the Los Angeles Clippers. Another amazing statistic is that he has 7 games of three or more steals in the game. One of those games he recorded four steals on the night. He has greatly improved not only his offensive game, but his defensive one as well.
Will It Last
Two things you have to remember with Kenneth Faried: He is still young at 24 years old and he wasn’t given a high ceiling on draft day. What I mean when I say he’s young, is that he still has a lot of years in the NBA. He still has a lot of time to work on himself and become a better player day after day. And also, Faried’s pre-draft ceiling never pointed toward All-Star-caliber production on the offensive end of the court, like the way he is playing right now. The crazy thing is, those pre-season comments are never written in stone.
Even after Faried had a lackluster outing against Detroit, head coach Shaw had nothing but positives to say: “He’s just playing with a lot of confidence. He has been rebounding the ball well on the defensive end and really pushing and igniting the break for us. He’s getting down the floor before the other team’s defense can set and our guys are doing a good job getting the ball into him inside and he’s just turning and scoring on everybody inside. You want to get the ball in his hands as much as possible.”
This run he is on right now is becoming harder and harder to believe it’s a fluke. Based on the confidence with which he plays, his potential is just higher than previously thought. And this run is just proving that statement right. More subtly, Faried has become a more consistent player, which he was having trouble with during the first half of the season. Especially, down in the post. He has become a consistent post-up player who can be fed the ball. The sweeping jump-hook going to his right remains the go-to move.
With his increased confidence, increased consistency and dominant play, it’s hard to say this is a fluke. He has been playing too incredible to not think he could continue the improvement.
Kenneth Faried is up for a contract extension this offseason. His lackluster first half of the season made it appear highly unlikely that he’d be cashing in with the Nuggets. In all likelihood, he’d be signing a smaller deal or waiting for his contract to expire before seeing what happened in free agency. However, his recent play should change that likelihood. After all, this streak he is on has already forced his perceived ceiling to reach new heights, and his earning potential should follow a similar pattern.
Referring to the young power forward as a future All-Star starter is still too far of a reach for my liking, but it’s not completely unrealistic to say that he’ll be an upper-tier starter and candidate for the midseason classic’s bench if he can keep up this type of production.
The Denver Nuggets will not make the playoffs this season and will have a lot of time to decide on what they should do with Kenneth Faried. It would be smartest to extend his contract and see how his improvements are in 2 years from now. However, they would probably get something of value if they could trade him in the offseason.