The Denver Nuggets’ ultra athletic 6”8’ power forward Kenneth Faried is starting to play like the star he, the team and the league want him to be. Based on his play in March Faried is becoming just as much a force on the court as he is a force for marketing the team.
Since the trade deadline, Faried has been on a TEAR. And over the past couple weeks, he’s played the best basketball we’ve seen in his three year NBA career.
Since the start of March, Faried is averaging 21.9 points and 9.8 rebounds a game. Faried is turning up the heat on his post deadline play in March, he turned his trade deadline averages of 19 points and 8.6 rebounds into 21.9 and 9.8. If he finds a way to keep it going, Faried will be a consistent 20 point, 10 rebound FORCE we’ve seen flashes of, but haven’t got consistently.
There is nothing about his play that says he can’t keep it up. The Nuggets haven’t had a consistent 20 and 10 guy since Antonio McDyess, and having another consistent scorer is crucial for this roster with Danilo Gallinari recovering from a torn ACL. Faried’s play means a lot more close games and wins for the Denver Nuggets.
The record holder for the most rebounds in NCAA history has shown some scoring skills this month. Faried has been the high scorer in the last three games against Orlando (26 points), Miami (24 points), and Atlanta (25 points).
Faried was amazing in the game in Miami game too. It was the Nuggets best win of the year and Faried came up big for the team with 24 points, 10 rebounds, and 3.0 steals on 9.0 of 15.0 shooting.
Where did this offensive explosion come from? Even though he worked with Hakeem Olajuwon it’s not like the Nuggets are giving him the ball on the block for him to make a move, or running the offense through him.
Three things appear to have brought the Manimal’s offense to life. First, he’s hitting his free throws now. Since the beginning of February Faried is shooting 69.2 percent from the free throw line. Before Feburary he was only shooting 57 percent and those freebies add up.
Second, Faried is getting more comfortable in Brian Shaw’s system, and Brian Shaw is getting more comfortable giving Faried big minutes. In March, Faried is averaging 32.6 minutes a game. Only Randy Foye and Ty Lawson have played more. Before March, he was never over 30 minutes a game and played only 19.9 minutes a game in December.
With the extra time, Faried hasn’t been shy about getting more shots up either. He’s getting 13.4 shots a game in March, and that’s 5.1 more shots a game than his career average of 8.3. Thanks to shooting a career high 64.5 percent from the floor in March, the extra shots are meaning a lot more points.
The efficiency is the key for Faried to turn this monster month into the norm. As long as he’s taking good shots and making them (he’s a career 56.2 percent shooter) then Brian Shaw will continue to give him big minutes, Ty Lawson will continue to set him up, and the Nuggets may have a legit second piece alongside Ty Lawson in this rebuilding effort.
Based on Brian Shaw’s history developing bigs, and the confidence Faried is playing with in March, I think the Manimal will be a lot closer to averaging 20 points and 10 rebounds going forward than his career averages of 11 points and 8 rebounds.