What’s Next? 2016-17 Denver Nuggets: Minimal Manimal

By now, NBA season previews are rolling out. Countless basketball sites, podcasts, and television shows are breaking down all 30 teams; projecting how each will fare based on additions and subtractions. I would like to do something different and focus on teams through the fish-eyed lens of their respective most intriguing player or players. I continue with the Denver Nuggets.

It feels like Kenneth Faried has been an NBA player for at least a dozen years. He’s only going into his sixth season, and just 26 years old. But it seems like forever ago when Faried dominated the BBVA Rising Stars game. He finished with 40 points and 10 rebounds, albeit in an exhibition, but he was far and away the most effective player in the game, nabbing the MVP. He positioned himself as a rising star as a then-23-year-old fledgling, energetic interior player. It appeared the Manimal would grow to be a continuous candidate for all-star roster spots, even in a talent-laden West.

Faried is consistent. His career averages hover around 13 points and eight rebounds, which is about where his numbers were this past season. However, when a player is middling and not showing signs of tangible growth, he grows more and more expendable — ask Serge Ibaka.

The Manimal (Credit: clutchpoints.com)
The Manimal (Credit: clutchpoints.com)

Energy is an important component of team chemistry. There is only one basketball, and not everyone on the court is blessed with the ability to score said basketball effectively and at a superstar level. Faried is not one of those players, as Denver runs little offense for him. Most of his points are accumulated via sheer activity around the rim. He runs end to end as hard as any big and has the good hands and agility to make the tough catches and finish in transition.

Last season, there were whispers of the Denver Nuggets moving Faried. While none of those offers became real, the sentiment that the franchise needs to possibly move on from him gained more credence. The Nuggets appear to be moving toward fresher faces. And though they’ve drafted more perimeter players than interior ones, the team does seem to be throwing support behind Nikola Jokic and Jusuf Nurkic — the two most prominent additions to the frontcourt.

Faried throwing one down. (Credit: Yibada.com)
Faried throwing one down. (Credit: Yibada.com)

It is very possible for Denver to play Faried next to one of those young centers as a veteran, high-energy presence in the starting lineup. However, I’ve watched a lot of basketball, and whenever there is a possibility of an odd man out, youth trumps experience. We’ll see how and where Faried ends up, in terms of both his overall skill and his place on a roster.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *