Just a little over two months ago, I called him a dilemma. Today, I call him a sensation. Or should I? In a season where the Denver Nuggets neither will reach the playoffs, nor fail bad enough to catch a top pick in the upcoming draft, the only thing they need to worry about is the progression of their current players. And in his third season, Kenneth Faried is at the stage where he needs to put up, or shut up. As a physical player, he needs to show enhanced ball and shooting skills to improve his value – because as his age rises, his athleticism will drop.
Beware the ides of March, but be more confident when it comes to Kenneth Faried. His complete season totals look decent, at 12.5 points and 7.9 rebounds per game, via espn.com. However, they have taken a steroid type injection since February ended. In the last ten games, he has averaged almost perfectly, twenty points and ten rebounds per game. 20 and 10. Veinte y diez. No matter how you present those numbers, the last time Denver had someone post them in a season was before the espn.com database can even remember.
So it begs the question: is March the representation of what will become of Kenneth Faried?
Looking at month-by-month data on both rebounds and points per game this season, Faried has more or less stayed around his career totals, only to take a spike in the last 23 days. In February he started to score, but only insignificantly as his monthly average went up to thirteen. Usually NBA players, especially those with limited skillsets or physical attributes, such as Faried himself, rarely enjoy such a month of success, unless there is a explanation for the anomaly that points to temporal and not long-term success. Namely, uncommonly favorable matchups with snake-bitten teams, or unusual luck with low percentage shots.
In a recent postgame synopsis by roundballminingcompany.com, they took a look at Faried’s commendable March, and put in a few thoughts of their own. Looking at his stats, they believe it is “probably not sustainable”. But then they give a few optimistic readings into why they say “probably”, and not, “isn’t”. First of all, they immediately follow by saying “it’s nice to see that he’s not just getting these numbers by hitting a bunch of shots he normally doesn’t make”. That reduces the theory of favorable luck. But has any of his game have signs of getting better? “His post game has shown legit improvement, there’s a fluidity to his moves that are flummoxing guys one on one.”
I have watched Faried play over his first couple years in professional basketball, and I have seen that he has weaknesses in both patience and variety in his post game. It is encouraging to see others notice his improvement in both of these areas. He has developed a consistent hook shot over his left shoulder, and if he continues to improve on balance and patience off the dribble, I can see these numbers sustain themselves.
And he isn’t only improving on offense. “Even more impressive, his defensive awareness seems to have had an uptick, on many a pick and rolls during the game he knew exactly where to rotate and when to get back.” A coach will love when a player commits to defensive learning, and it also adds great value to a player who can get by without stellar defense, like Faried. With increased defensive awareness off pick and rolls, more fast break opportunities will be created, which plays right into the hand of Kenneth Faried, who thrives off a high energy, high motion brand of basketball.
I believe Faried’s March is a true showing of improvement of skillset areas, something that I have said he needs to gain. His shooting percentage has risen from 53% to 59%, and his free-throw percentage from 64% to 70%. I also believe his numbers will continue to grow, especially as forward J. J. Hickson has torn his ACL, and will be out for the rest of the season. Don’t be surprised to see his shooting percentages come back down somewhat, however. I don’t think he can flirt with near 60% shooting forever. Regardless, Faried’s improvement is real, and what he did in March was incredible. He’s become a better player, and has shown progression over this – his important third year in the NBA. There is not much fiction about this.
Interested in writing for LWOS? We are looking for enthusiastic, talented writers to join our basketball writing team. Visit our “Write for Us” page for very easy details in how you can get started today!