The Year of the Manimal

Mark D. Smith-US PRESSWIRE

Kenneth Faried will show the NBA just how dominant he is over the course of a full 82 game season.

With all the hubbub surrounding JaVale McGee's offseason workout with Hakeem Olajuwon, the acquisition of Andre Iguodala, the emergence of Jordan Hamilton as the Nuggets' next sharpshooter, the return of Wilson Chandler, the ongoing debate over who should start at center and getting Ty Lawson a new contract, one player that's been somewhat submerged in the news is Kenneth Faried.

At times, I get the sense that despite his performance in the lockout-shortened 66 game season last year, Faried is being overlooked. I continue to see mentions of Faried with the qualifier, "Oh, he's a great rebounder, but not much else".

Not only is Faried much more than just one of the league's best rebounders, he's on track to become one of the best power forwards in the game. To illustrate just how good his rookie season was, take a look at the following chart of three power forward rookie season performances:

PF Rookie Season PER True Shooting % Total Rebound % Points Per Game Usage %
Player A 16.2 .530 15.9 13.5 21.5
Player B 19.5 .566 13.5 17.6 22.6
Player C 21.9 .618 19.8 10.2 18.7

For a more in-depth explanation of advanced metrics, see the excellent Basketball-Reference glossary here.

You might have guessed already that player C is Kenneth Faried. But which stats belong to Player A and Player B?

Amar'e Stoudemire and Pau Gasol (respectively). Stoudemire ranked in the top 10 (except in Jeff Morton's opinion), and Gasol in the top 5 in each of the Denver Stiffs writer rankings of the power forward position earlier this year. Some of Faried's other accolades from his rookie season last year include:

- #1 amongst all rookies in rebounds per game.

- #8 amongst all rookies in points per game.

- Tied for #1 amongst all rookies in double-doubles.

- #20 amongst ALL NBA players in PER (player efficiency rating)

I will couch Faried's numbers with the admission that they come during a lockout-shortened 66-game season, and one in which Faried played in just 46 games total (starting in 39 of those). However, neither Gasol nor Stoudemire started all games in their rookie seasons either. While it is true that with another 25 or 30 games played, Faried's numbers were likely to decline from their lofty heights, Faried's per-36 minutes stats bear out his effectiveness.

Against a rookie-season Gasol and Stoudemire, Faried would still have the second-highest number of points per 36 (16.4), the highest total rebounds (12.2), highest field goal percentage (.586), and least turnovers (1.9), minimum 1000 minutes played. Not only is Faried an exemplary rebounder, he shoots very efficiently, doesn't turn the ball over, and doesn't need to utilize a large percentage of possessions to remain effective. Additionally, Faried's numbers around the basket reflect that he's not just a dunker, but crafty in the post (and he'll get even better):

Shot Type FG FGA FG%
Dunk 90 100 90
Hook Shot 19 40 48
Jump Shot 26 80 33
Lay-up 71 133 53
Tip Shot 7 16 44

Faried is very efficient on shots in and around the paint and doesn't need to dunk the ball to score. His ability to scoop boards on the offensive glass gives him a lot of easy looks around the rim, which accounts for his 53% shooting on layups and 48% on hook shots. Going forward, we've also seen glimpses of a slick little elbow jumper from Faried. If he can hit that shot consistently, his quickness will create a nightmare for other teams trying to guard him with slower power forwards. Faried's a smart player, too - he doesn't take off balance shots or shots well outside his range, an ugly habit that many power forwards fall into. He sticks around the glass and makes sure that the shots he attempts are good ones.

I cannot emphasize this enough: Kenneth Faried is a very special player, with a unique combination of efficient scoring, hyper-efficient rebounding and huge degree of unquantifiable "hustle". His infectious positive attitude rubs off on his teammates and the coaching staff, and you can see his commitment to defense as well. There'll be growing pains to be sure, but nowhere near to the degree experienced with, say, JaVale McGee. He has a head for the game and a degree of basketball IQ that surpasses players those of players that he compares with physically, like Charles Barkley and Dennis Rodman. He has a ways to go on defense, but that will come with time. As long as he's getting his hand up and closing out on jump shots, I have no concerns with Faried's defense in the post.

Don't overlook Kenneth Faried this year, Stiffs. With a little luck, he might finally be the missing piece to take the Nuggets farther than they've ever been before.

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