The precarious position the Denver Nuggets are in regarding forward Kenneth Faried is certainly striking a nerve with Nuggets fans. Franchise loyalty toward a player often produces disastrous results on the court—think the end stage of Kobe Bryant‘s career. As such, the Nuggets must answer the question: is it time to part ways with Faried? The answer lies within Faried’s on-court performance, and is more obvious than fans would care to admit.
Forward Kenneth Faried Still the Right Fit in Denver?
Make no mistake, Faried is a valued member of the Nuggets franchise, and an active member in the community. The “Manimal” is universally loved in Denver, which has only fueled public opinion. Faried is an athletic, high energy player who is efficient in his minutes on the court. Through 348 games with the Nuggets, Faried has logged 26.6 minutes per game while posting 12.3 points and 8.7 rebounds per game. He has earned a reputation for his intensity on the offensive glass. An impressive 3.2 offensive rebounds per game has resulted in quality second chance opportunities, resulting in an efficient 54.4% career field goal percentage.
Do Nuggets Coaches Trust Faried?
The most telling number in Faried’s stat line can be found in his minutes per game. Through five NBA seasons, Faried has averaged 26.6 minutes per game, never logging more than 28.1 minutes per game. This raises huge red flags in Denver, leading many to question why the “cornerstone” player is only in the game 55% of the time. Do the coaches trust Faried to contribute starting minutes at his position? Based on a five-year sample size, the answer is cloudy at best.
A secondary issue in Denver is that Faried does not assert himself on the offensive end of the court, rebounding aside. Though he is incredibly efficient in his shot selection, Faried often shies away from his own shot. Averaging only 9.1 shots per game through his five year career, Faried is awfully timid in creating opportunities for himself. More telling is that he has averaged only 3.6 free throw attempts per game, well under what should be expected for a player with his physical skill set. This is a huge concern for a franchise that needs players to assert themselves offensively in the paint.
Has Faried Hit His Ceiling?
If there is a model for consistency in the NBA, it would be Kenneth Faried. You cannot help but to marvel at how incredibly consistent his production is year in and year out. Faried consistently produces his career averages for the Nuggets; nothing more, nothing less. While this is fantastic when trying to project season production, it is maddening for a franchise that has tried to reach Faried’s “upside” for the past three seasons. Has Faried hit his ceiling?
With an ample sample size available to us, the honest answer is that we have already witnessed Faried at his best, and worst. The only upside remaining is that you know Faried will not drop off in production at this point. But does his production justify further investment in Faried as a cornerstone player for the Nuggets? Probably not.
Maximizing Faried’s Value
While the Nuggets made a prudent choice in trying and maximize Faried’s upside, they must now try to maximize his value as a trade asset. At issue here is determining his trade value as a stand alone asset. The Nuggets have over-valued Faried in prior seasons, which hurts his trade market today. Astute GM’s across the NBA are aware of his ceiling, as well as his limited minutes on the court. Consequently, they have many of the same questions that have been discussed already. As such, Faried does not have a tremendous market at this time. Teams would love to have him on their roster, but aren’t willing to give up the farm to bring him in.
The most likely scenario would be to package Faried with either Gary Harris or Will Barton as a package deal. The combination of Faried and Harris could motivate the Sacramento Kings to pull the trigger on a trade that would include DeMarcus Cousins. With Cousins likely destined for Boston at some point this season, a trade for “Boogie” is a longshot at best. Another likely suitor would the the Atlanta Hawks, who have dangled Paul Millsap in the past. As a team in transition, the Hawks could be inclined to bring in multiple core players that can help fill their roster at areas of need. The idea of Millsap manning (no pun intended, Denver) the post for the Nuggets is an upgrade at the position and eliminates a log jam that Denver currently faces at guard. It is a win-win.
Kenneth Faried has been a fan favorite in Denver through the duration of his tenure with the Nuggets. He has received accolades for his potential as a player, as well as his contributions within the community. As the Nuggets build toward a progressive future, they need to think big picture, loyalty be damned. The Nuggets are no longer in rebuild mode, and are thinking “win now”. Faried can still help Denver meet that goal, which is what every fan wants.
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