This young man has steadily ascended to the heights of Mt. Molehill I’ve designated for my favorite players. In fact, I’ve been meaning to write an article on him for quite some time, but I was curious to see how his accolades piled up in recent weeks before signing off on this endeavor. The Denver Nuggets’ power forward has been headline news of late, but not for his regular season play (although he should be).
Kenneth was selected to participate in his first (of many) All Star Weekends. He may not have competed in the grand poobah ASG, but he quietly accepted his invitation to the Rising Stars Challenge, as is his nature. An athletic sophomore with a penchant for dunking that doesn’t need plays called for him? What could possibly happen in a play-as-you-go scrimmage amongst the best young players?
A 40 point, 10 rebound game; that’s what. Never in his basketball career (high school, college, or professional) had Kenneth Faried scored more than 30 points. Much less 40. The high flying forward scored basket after basket on dunk after dunk to total 18/22 field goal attempts. Even with a style of play suited for the Rising Star Challenge, no one predicted that he’d bring home the MVP, but he got it done.
Here’s my favorite part. The man is humble. Imagine Tim Duncan, but a little more at ease with cameras and a microphone. Kenneth excitedly, but graciously, spoke with the TNT crew after the game and stood in disbelief as he was flooded with praise from Charles Barkley, Shaquille O’neal, and Karl Malone. A class act all the way (Just don’t call him Kenny).
But he’s more than just a great player. I would be remiss if I did not mention his recent off court venture. He appeared with his mothers, Manasin and Waudda Faried, in an LGBT OneColorado video supporting civil union. Faried is the 1st NBA player to join a Gay Rights group. Now, I suppose I shouldn’t take a stance on a non-basketball issue, so as not to alienate readers, so I’ll simply applaud his initiative.
Back to the basketball court and perhaps what you came here for. Kenneth is having an outstanding season. He has averaged 12.3 points and 9.7 rebounds IN UNDER 30 MINUTES A GAME. That is phenomenal efficiency. More than that, he can be called upon to bring it every second he’s on the hardwood. There is a reason he’s called “The Manimal”. One man’s missed lay in is another man’s put-back. Faried is that other man. He is the embodied reassembly of broken plays, trailing the runner every time. That is part of why he has the 5th most offensive rebounds of any NBA player this season, just above Joakim Noah. Granted, this does not account for the occasional missed game of other players, but that’s another thing; Faried has not missed a game this season.
What makes this truly incredible is that Faried is what I’ll call a “banger”. He lives in the paint and plays an explosive game. He hits the deck hard, he get’s fouled hard, he leaps for every rebound, and yet any resulting booboo is shaken off for the sake of continuation. Remember young Gerald Wallace? Faried plays with the same burning intensity, but greater efficiency. I like to remind my buddies that I claimed him to be “the best hustle player in the NBA within 3 seasons” during his rookie campaign, and it would seem that he’s perfectly on pace. Of course, it is very difficult to statistically quantify the skills of a hustle player, so there is room for speculation.
If you take just one thing from this story, I want you to keep watching him. If you haven’t been, start. It has been many years since I have seen such a ferocious player with such a deferential mindset. Look for him to become a leader in Denver as the seasons pass. In the meantime, sit back and enjoy the youthful enthusiasm and raw power he brings to the Mile High City and the NBA as a whole.