Kenneth Faried At A Crossroads

Justin Ford-USA TODAY Sports
Justin Ford-USA TODAY Sports /

Is Kenneth Faried’s status as astarter for the Denver Nuggets in jeopardy?

Even though he is just 26 years old, Kenneth Faried is firmly considered a veteran player on the current Denver Nuggets roster. The Manimal has become a staple of Nuggets’ basketball these past few years and seems to have cemented himself as a fan favorite because of his high-energy style of play.

But with the emergence of younger power forwards Nikola Jokic and Joffrey Lauvergne last year, it’s difficult to pinpoint the direction in which Faried is currently heading.

In this case, the key to analyzing Faried’s development may be within the statistics. Always considered a player with enormous potential, Faried’s numbers have surprisingly remained somewhat stagnant for the majority of his five-year NBA career. His career averages are around 12 points per game and just less than nine rebounds per game.

His scoring peaked in 2013 at 13.7 points per game, but tapered back to around 12.5 in the last two seasons.

Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY Sports
Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY Sports /

While Faried’s numbers are profoundly solid, the lack of significant improvement may merit some cause for concern for Nuggets’ fans. For all that Faried provides for the team when he’s on the floor, his weaknesses have become a nuisance at times.

Faried is vastly undersized for the power forward position and while his high motor negates some of the negatives, there are some disadvantages that have become just too easy to exploit.

His lack of size is most apparent on the defensive end, where too many times Faried is bullied by taller, more skilled post players. Unfortunately, aside from a few highlight-reel chasedown blocks, Faried is at best an average rim protector.

While Faried is one of the best in the league at earning hustle points, his inability to consistently hit open shots can at times make him a liability on the offensive end of the floor. Faried’s jump shot hasn’t improved since he came into the year, and his 3-point game is nonexistent.

In years past, a power forward wouldn’t need to shoot from beyond the arc, but the NBA is ever evolving, and the stretch-4 position is becoming increasingly valuable. Faried’s lack of a solid jump shot may perhaps be the most pressing aspect of his future with the Nuggets.

Jokic turned out to be a steal after being taken in the second round of the 2014 draft by the Nuggets and his rookie average of 10 points per game has Nuggets’ fans buzzing about his potential. While Jokic may be currently listed as a center, in the future the Nuggets may consider employing him more at the power forward position in order to hand more minutes to big man Jusuf Nurkic.

This pairing would give the Nuggets a younger and taller frontcourt. Jokic and Nurkic are both 21 years old and taller than 6-foot-10. They also have each exhibited the ability to create for themselves offensively, an ability that Faried has yet to demonstrate.

Denver Nuggets center Nikola Jokic (15). Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports
Denver Nuggets center Nikola Jokic (15). Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports /

While Faried’s future as a starter may be in doubt, his talent should still be enough for the Nuggets to keep him on the roster as sixth man. While my criticism of Faried may seem harsh in this article, I truly am a fan of the man’s game. Wherever his career goes next, I’ll always be cheering him on in my Manimal jersey.

His hustle and heart are unmatched in this league, and he certainly deserves to be commended for his natural athletic ability.

If Faried decides to honestly commit to improving his offensive game, he could finally blossom into the star that he has the potential to be. Unfortunately for him though, his window to do so is closing. With talented youngsters itching for their chance to shine in the starting lineup, Faried may eventually be best suited to serving as a high-energy role player for the Nuggets.

Whether he chooses to embrace this role or not is up to him, but it may just end up being the best situation for him as a Denver Nugget.