Kenneth Faried has been given the nickname Manimal, and it goes with good reason. This upcoming season should be the year he starts to growl and claim some territory throughout the NBA.
Faried really began to breakout during the last half of his third year with the Denver Nuggets. Now, he is showing signs of better things to come, which we’ve been seeing throughout his time with Team USA. This summer has been eye-opening for Faried and has allowed him to work on his biggest weaknesses. We are already seeing him minimize his weaknesses with Team USA.
Every season, we see a new set of players that manage a breakout year. Such big breakouts that they get put into the thick of the All-Star conversation, which we saw with Kyle Lowry last year. With the work he has put in this summer, he is setting himself up to be the chief among those breakout players.
I figured we would start off with the improvements he made during the second half of last season. Then we would talk about how he has carried that over to Team USA and how he has fared internationally so far. Then we will sum it all up with a verdict.
Second Half of Last Season
The second half of last season was spectacular compared to the first half for Kenneth Faried. Once the All-Star break was over, he managed to average 18.8 points per game, 10.1 rebounds per game, 1.6 assists per game and 0.7 blocks per game. He also managed to shoot a high 54.6 percent from the field.
He showed even more signs of explosiveness throughout the last 11 games of the season, where he averaged 20.6 points per game and 12.3 rebounds per game. So what changed for Faried?
There wasn’t any big increase in his play time or his role on the team, so it definitely can’t be contributed to that. Instead, it was rather an acceptance of the team’s system and doing well at playing to his strengths.
Faried was known early on for lofting up mid-range jumpers, even if it was a difficult shot. That kind of play didn’t really work too well with Brian Shaw’s offense. If it did, Faried would develop a solid mid-range jumper that would allow him to play as a stretch 4. However, what’s more important right now is playing to his strengths. The numbers show that he simply didn’t shoot well from beyond the paint last season.
When Faried was attempting a shot at the rim, he shot the ball 69.1%. That number saw a huge decrease, to 41.9%, when the distance moved between three and ten feet away from the basket. Going out even further, Faried only made 38.8% of his shots from between 16 and 23 feet out. In addition, he only shot 24.5% from the longest mid-range zones.
Looking even more closely, you will see that last season, Faried took 13.6 percent of his shots from beyond the painted area. However, throughout the last 30 days of the regular season, that number had dropped down to 10.5 percent. That’s a pretty big change and a pretty big upside in his statistics.
Let’s see how CBSSports.com’s Matt Moore explained the second half of the season for Kenneth Faried:
“Farried struggled in Shaw’s system early, having never developed a post-game or a mid-range jumper. The general consensus was that Faried would never fit in Shaw’s system, that Faried needed Karl’s type of up-and-down running game to succeed. Instad, while there’s a lot left for Faried to improve on, everything has been different as of late. He’s always made effort plays defensively, but now his rotations are better, as it was when he chased down a steal attempt and then recovered back for a huge block on DeAndre Jordan Monday.
And offensively? In March, Faried is averaging 21.5 points, 10.4 rebounds and 0.8 blocks per game and shooting a startling 62 percent from the field. It may just be a momentary blip in a lost season, but Faried shows legitimate signs of ‘getting it’ within the scope of Shaw’s offense.”
During training camp for Team USA, people were skeptical of whether Faried would make the cut or not. Little did they know, he would turn out to be one of the team’s most valuable players.
In their game against Turkey, Faried scored a game-high 22 points and shot 11 of 14 from the field. He also managed to grab eight rebounds, record three steals and block two shots. Ultimately, Faried’s play against Turkey gave the team the push they needed to come back from a 5-point deficit at half time. They ended up winning 98-77.
It seems Team USA is simply more productive when they run their offense through the post with either Faried or Anthony Davis. They pair up perfectly and Faried is easily learning a lot because of it. He also showed versatility, with his 11 field goals spread across hook shots, dunks and layups.
He is still giving his team the dominant defense he is known for, but you can really see the improvement he has made at working the post and scoring down low. He’s more composed and relaxed down low, which helps him build his confidence in his game. The higher his confidence goes, the higher the ceiling for Kenneth Faried.
Well, we are through three games for Team USA and Kenneth Faried has looked amazing. In the three games, Kenneth Faried is averaging 14.3 points per game, 8.3 rebounds per game and one block per game. His incredible 81% field goal percentage ranks number one overall in the 2014 FIBA World Cup.
I can honestly see Faried play like this, if not better, during the upcoming NBA regular season. He might not make 81% of his shots, but Kenneth Faried will play at a high-pace and be of great value for the Denver Nuggets. Expect more great things from Kenneth Faried in the near future.