#NuggetsRank No. 4: Kenneth Faried

Every year around this time ESPN introduces its annual #NBArank series codifying all 500 players in the NBA from least to most valuable. Last year Roundball Mining Company decided to get in on the action and began ranking each of the players on the Denver Nuggets’ final 15-man roster in the same fashion. We’ve polled all seven of our writers, asking them to arrange each player on the Nuggets roster from one to 15 (one being the best, 15 the least valuable), then we added everyone’s scores together to come up with a single, definitive list of the 15 “most valuable” Denver Nuggets. Kenneth Faried comes in at No. 4, maintaining his ranking from last year.

It’s hard not to love Faried, who in many ways has become the heart and soul of the Nuggets. With his unbridled energy and enthusiasm on the court, his fearlessness and ravenousness in crashing the boards against larger opponents, and his brazen joy for playing the game of basketball, he is truly a pleasure to watch.

Yet there is still plenty of room and need for the development of his game, and 2013-14 will be a pivotal season in Faried’s career. Now entering the third year of his rookie contract, the young fan favorite will endeavor to prove that he is worthy of a lucrative long-term extension. And in order to accomplish that goal, he will need to show more signs of improvement than he did last season.

Compared to his first year, Faried’s per-36 and advanced numbers declined in nearly every relevant statistical category – albeit not too dramatically. His true shooting percentage dropped from .618 to .573, his rebound rate from 19.8 to 18.3, his PER from 21.9 to 18.5, and his win shares per 48 minutes from .212 to .167.

Of course, to a certain extent this slippage is within the margin of what could be reasonably expected given his greatly increased role. Last season Faried played more than double the minutes and started in over twice as many games than he had as a rookie. As such, it would have been more surprising than not if he hadn’t come down to earth a little. But it does leave the door open to the question of how much more upside he really has left on tap.

This season he’ll have the chance to synthesize the best of his first two years by recouping his more elevated rookie efficiency while continuing his expanded role. However, with the arrival of J.J. Hickson and Darrell Arthur, he will be facing increased competition for precious minutes and the starting power forward job. In order to stay atop the depth chart at the four, he will need not only to at least maintain (if not improve upon) his current production, but also find a way to rectify some of his weaknesses and perhaps add a new dimension to his game.

Chris Dempsey reported in the Denver Post that Faried worked on addressing one such weakness over the offseason by focusing on improving his free throw shooting. It’s encouraging news, and if his efforts were to pay off it would be a great step in the right direction, as he  could both improve his offensive efficiency and become less of a liability in late game situations. He will hopefully benefit as well from what appears to be Brian Shaw’s intention to shift away from the switch-heavy defensive schemes of George Karl, which Faried struggled to learn and execute, and towards a more conventional system.

If Faried can make even nominal improvements in these areas, he’ll be that much closer to locking down that big extension, and in the process will be able to contribute more significantly to the Nuggets’ success this season, and well into the future.

#NuggetsRank

15. Anthony Randolph

14. Quincy Miller

13. Timofey Mozgov

12. Jordan Hamilton

11. Randy Foye

10. Darrell Arthur

9. J.J. Hickson

8. Andre Miller

7. Evan Fournier

6. Nate Robinson

5. JaVale McGee

4. Kenneth Faried

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Joel is a long time Denver Nuggets (and Broncos) fan from Colorado who's been living in Japan since the mid-90s, and blogging about the Nuggets since 2008. You can contact and follow him on Twitter: @denbutsu.
  • Kyle Wurtz

    Why the discrepancy between Hickson and Faried? Virtually identical styles, and Hickson has slightly better stats from last year…I don’t know much about Hickson so I’m not contending the ranking or anything…I’m just curious what makes him so much worse than Faried.

    • dynamo.joe

      The only real difference I can see is that Faried came in to the league as that guy, but Hickson never really did anything until last season. So there is some question as to which is the real Hickson, the underperforming Cav or the all-star caliber Blazer.

  • dynamo.joe

    To me Faried is the clear #1 on this team. Yes, I can see the holes in his game, but those holes don’t really matter, because he is sooo good at the things he can do. And importantly, in comparison to Ty, the effort is always there.

    Ty can be just a good a player, but the effort is inconsistent at best. If Ty were to put together a complete season, he should be getting all-star consideration, but we haven’t seen it to date. To me that puts him below Faried.

    It’s also nice to see that Faried, by chance or otherwise, correctly identified the one aspect of his game that demanded improvement. Yes, 3 or more post moves would be nice. Yes, the ability to hit corner 3’s would be nice (he was 100% on 3pt attempts last year, as were JaVale and Kosta). Yes, improved defense beyond the chase down from behind block cloned from Lebron would be nice, especially since he’ll be playing w/JaVale. But only the improvement in FT% was really critical.

    • heykyleinsf

      wow.

      I like your guts.. but .. wow..
      Nah..

      This is Ty’s team..
      and he is the best player.

      • Bricks

        Agreed . . . mostly. Ty is most valuable to these Nuggets, he makes ‘em go, but you could make a case that Gallo’s their best player. Gallo will be an All Star before Ty (if either EVER see that rarified air) because of Gallo’s complete well-rounded skill set, esp. on the defensive side and his ability to create the shots he wants.

        But if you want to talk scary raw talent that hasn’t even peaked yet . . . give me Chandler.

  • heykyleinsf

    Joel…. nothing on RBMC re: a sweet preseason opening win in LA vs Lakers?

    • http://www.roundballminingcompany.com/ JoelRMC

      I personally wasn’t able to watch it (work), but I’m pretty sure one of our other writers will have something up. The preseason games are a little more difficult to cover, but we’ll try to report on all of them if possible. And once the regular season begins, we’ll definitely have the usual Rapid Reactions up after every game. Thanks for checking in and for your patience!

      • dynamo.joe

        I wasn’t expecting a rapid reaction post per se, but at least a place to put my “see, Randy Foye SUCKS” comments.

  • http://americablog.com magster

    I think Faried’s absence as a healthy participant against GSW was as harmful as Gallo’s. Once he got healthy, around Game 5, the Nugs played a lot better. Too big a hole by that point.