Nuggets' biggest surprise: Kenneth Faried - the Manimal unchained

Doug Pensinger

In an up-and-down early season for these Denver Nuggets, one cannot argue that the biggest and most pleasant surprise of the campaign has been the one they call the Manimal. Kenneth Faried.

There's no dispute about the conclusion of this missive. By leaps and bounds, in this sketchy NBA season for the Denver Nuggets, Kenneth Faried has been the Nuggets biggest surprise. You can also make the argument that he has been the Nuggets most consistent (outside of the first two games) player. Here are his per game averages so far this season:

FG 3PT FT Rebounds Misc
G M M A Pct M A Pct M A Pct Off Def Tot Ast TO Stl Blk PF PPG
2012 - Kenneth Faried 11 29.8 5.7 10.5 54.3 0.0 0.0 0.0 2.5 4.6 54.9 5.7 5.5 11.3 0.4 1.5 0.9 0.8 2.9 14.0

Eleven games into this season, and Faried is averaging a double-double (14 pts 11.3 rebs). More than than that, his hustle and flow on the court has energized a rather stagnant offense that would be lost without him. Despite my (still held) conviction that Manimal would be best utilized off the bench, he has gone out and been the most productive player on offense. Cleaning up offensive rebounds, and generally cleaning up after a team that has had plenty of offensive (pun intended) shooting nights.

The key to Faried's game is energy. Relentless energy and hustle that transcends his lack of height and body girth. It allows him the ability to chase the "leftovers" from missed shots and go after rebounds like a hell-hound on your trail (Robert Johnson, yo). There were several instances in the Grizzlies where Manimal's activity on the offensive boards resulted in multiple shot opportunities for both him and other Nuggets. Also, his activity on the defensive end was relentless and got Tony Allen to pull Faried's hair out of frustration.

Denver Nuggets Vs Memphis Grizzlies | Full Highlights | 11/19/2012 | NBA Season 2012/13 (via NBACalifornia)

Kenneth Faried 22 Points Full Highlights (11/3/2012) (via DownToBuck)

See that? Hair pulling. See those Miami Heat highlights? Dominant.

What was even better for Faried in Memphis? He out-rebounded Zach Randolph. This is almost impossible to do considering Z-Bo often camps out in the lane for, you know, ever and is hard to defend with his one-handed tip-ins. However, Manimal overcame that and cleaned up very nicely in Denver's 97-92 win.

Additionally, I can see a positive effect on JaVale McGee when he plays with Faried. It seems the hustle becomes contagious. You find JaVale hustling just as much, and then cleaning up on the offensive boards and more importantly the defensive boards (where McGee can struggle). Once the Nuggets' offense gets clicking, you will see Manimal's game evolve from "clean up artist" to "down low scorer". Manimal has displayed some nice post moves of late ... and these will come in handy when the Nuggets shooting percentage slowly increases (and it will).

Overall, it's hard not to love what you are seeing from the Manimal. Hopefully better things will come as this tough early season schedule progresses for George Karl and the Nuggets.

The Manimal ... Unchained

Van Halen - Unchained (HD) (via killthedead23)


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Twitter: @jmorton78!/jmorton78

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