Turn on any episode of the Jalen and Jacoby podcast on the Grantland network, and you'll be greeted by the same horrific singing from Jalen Rose each episode, "Weeee've got to give the peeeeeople, give the peeeeeople what they waaaaaant!"
Well, Brian Shaw is giving the people, and Kenneth Faried what they want. He has learned that it's necessary to ...
(No idiot bloggers were harmed during the filming of that ridiculous video.)
Faried's minutes in November: 25.8, in December: 26.2, and through five games in January: just over 30. Faried has responded by boosting his rebounding numbers from 6.5, to 9.2, to 12.8 in January. He has also posted rebounding totals of 19, 13, 12, and 13 in four out of five games this month.
Kenneth's minutes started to see a steady increase on Dec. 17th, and he put on a show against the Timberwolves on Dec. 26th with a monstrous 26 point and 25 rebound effort in a 106-102 win, in 30 minutes of action. Manimal's attacking style, and propensity for being around the rim make him an ideal fit for a frontcourt featuring a center like Jusuf Nurkic. Nuggets General Manager Tim Connelly outlined his excitement for the Faried and Nurkic pairing in our recent Colorado Sports Guys podcast.
While the Nuggets are experimenting with plans for the future, they are also winning games, and Faried has been a big reason for that. You have to recognize that Faried carries an offensive rating of 106.6 when he's on the floor (meaning the numbers of points a team scores per 100 possessions when the player is on the floor), good things happen with Kenneth's aggressive style. But we also have to recognize that he has a defensive rating of 106.1 (meaning the team gives up a similar amount of points with him on the floor).
While we hope to see Faried's defensive rating closer to that of teammate Darrell Arthur's 95.4 (or even J.J. Hickson's 104.2 defensive rating), we must not forget that Faried plays with a successful reckless abandon. One must learn to live with some of the headaches, in order to appreciate what makes that player special. And Faried's Manimal ways make him special.
Count this local yokel among those who wishes to see a better jump shot from Faried, but I also must caution about taking Faried too far away from the basket. Take Blake Griffin for example. People wanted to see Griffin become more than just a high-flyer, but now that he has expanded his game - you're hearing that he's not rebounding enough. Griffin is averaging 22.7 points per game, but he's only averaging 7.7 rebounds per game (with only nine games of double digit boards through Jan. 11th).
Faried has posted double digit boards just 11 times this season, but seven of those have come in his last nine games - raising his season total to 8.7 rebounds per game. So, why is Faried rebounding the ball better and playing better overall? Well, he said it best in a recent interview on SuperSport.com.
When I'm down I like to just refocus and humble myself, in order to make it and get into my groove. This game can be very stressful. I was stressing in the beginning of the season. If I was playing back then the way I am now, I would be an All-Star. I talked to my family, coach and got back to the game I love. -Kenneth Faried.
Faried is a very interesting player. He has a chip on his shoulder when he's on the floor, and takes a Me vs. The World attitude in a lot of interviews. It's clear that Faried wants to win you over, but he wants to do so with his actions on the floor.
Coach Shaw and Faried have had their differences since Shaw's arrival. Shaw's approach with Faried, through the media, doesn't garner the best results. But when Shaw believes in Kenneth, that's when we see the Manimal thrive.