Kenneth Faried has played his first game as a Denver Nugget. Of course, the blue trim on his jersey was several shades darker than the light blue the Nuggets are now known for and he was not running alongside Ty Lawson, Arron Afflalo and Nene. He was part of the Jimmer All-Stars who suited up in Provo, Utah on Thursday, September 22nd.
Kalen did a great job of documenting the overwhelming consensus of Faried’s physicality from those who witnessed his performance. However, I have had Dish Network for years and happened to recall one of the many channels I have never watched was called BYUTV. It donned on me that seeing as how Jimmer Fredette is as important to Utah as Paul Bunyan is to Minnesota and Jeffrey Dahmer is to Wisconsin, they probably televised the game. Lo and behold, despite the fact we are smack dab in the middle of football season I was discovered a replay of the game and was able to view the Nuggets new acquisition with my very own eyes.
The game was comprised of incoming rookies as well as a couple of players hoping to become incoming rookies featuring eight first round picks from last June’s draft. For much of the contest Faried was matched up against Charlotte Bobcats big man Bismack Biyombo. Despite the fact Biyombo had slight advantages of height and weight Faried was by far the more dynamic player. Faried and Biyombo really got after each other. It was good to see such physical play in an exhibition game and despite the rough and tumble battle in the paint, there was never any animosity which shows me that both Faried and Biyombo believe that is how basketball is supposed to be played.
With the ball Faried is not much of a threat. His post moves consist of off balance jump hooks set up by poor footwork. There is no confidence in his movement and he takes shots almost out of duty than a sense he is exploiting a scoring opportunity. Anything further out than a dunk is an adventure and the one jumper I saw him attempt was more frightening than the prospect of missing Soviet suitcase nukes.
He did attempt to put the ball on the floor a couple of times. On the most memorable foray he attempted a cross over step from the left side of the circle and the effort was not abysmal, but proved ineffective. His jab step fake to the right was not convincing enough to get his defender leaning as he began pulling his foot to the left before completing the fake thus when he pulled the ball through and brought his right foot across the defender had little trouble staying with him. It was a good sign that he had worked on it and was capable of handling the ball over a short distance with a defender in close proximity.
His three primary offensive skills will be setting screens, extending possessions with his offensive rebounding ability and finishing around the hoop. I suspect he will be Andre Miller’s new alley oop buddy.
Defensively it was difficult to get much of a read of his true capabilities. While he played like a beast on the boards the collective defensive mindset, while slightly better than your average exhibition contest, left something to be desired. When it comes to hedging or trapping on the pick and roll I have no idea if he is Anderson Varejao or Marcus Camby. He does seem to move his feet well though and with his effort level should be a solid on the ball defender. If there is an area to be concerned about, it is his post defense. His best defense is his strength and he will need it. With his lack of length it will be crucial for him to push his opponent off the block as far as possible.
Faried is not a track star, but he still managed to make several plays in transition. On one occasion he stole the ball and despite being all alone almost lost control of his dribble. However, he was able to collect himself and throw down an impressive windmill dunk highlighting his athleticism (see video below). Soon after he nabbed a rebound and began pushing the ball up the floor on his own. He handled it well and made a good decision hitting Nolan Smith on the right side with a timely pass leading to an easy dunk.
His most impressive play however was a sequence where he threw down a powerful alley oop dunk at one end and then caught up with Biyombo on the other and blocked his shot at the rim from behind.
Physically Faried looks to be in tremendous shape and at the risk of sounding like Danielle Steel when his jersey swayed in the wind as he moved up and down the floor he appeared to be very lean. He was never required to make any difficult catches, but he seems to have good hands and always clamped down on rebounds. No bobbles or fumbles.
What really stuck with me is Faried seems to play much bigger than his measurements, especially his listed weight of 228. He looked very explosive on his multitude of dunk attempts and has good bounce getting off the floor quickly on his second and third jumps.
His effort and “motor” were not oversold and Nuggets fans who fell in love with the no talent all effort Ryan Bowen are going to be even more thrilled with Faried.