Brooklyn Nets forward Kenneth Faried went from rising star and Team USA starter to forgotten man for the Denver Nuggets in short order. Can he turn around?
Four years ago, Kenneth Faried was one of the rising stars in the NBA. Eyeing a lucrative extension, the now-Brooklyn Nets power forward was a starter and an all-tournament performer in 2014 at the FIBA World Cup in Spain.
That was a year after he had been named the MVP of the Rising Stars Challenge at NBA All-Star Weekend in Houston. The Denver Nuggets thought they had a star on the rise, all right, handing Faried a four-year, $50 million extension of his rookie deal.
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But the 22nd overall pick in the 2011 NBA Draft learned quickly that life comes at you fast in the NBA. Faried went from rising star to diminishing minutes to forgotten man in the span of three seasons.
The changing NBA and its emphasis on stretching the floor, switchable defenders and faster-paced offensive play left Faried as something of an anacronysm by the time 2015-16 rolled around.
He was still a starter for the Nuggets, but his playing time was on the decline, from 27.8 minutes per game in 2014-15 to 25.3 the following season.
By the next season, he was a part-time starter averaging 21.2 minutes a night. Last season, Faried played in only 32 games, starting just seven, and averaged only 14.4 minutes per game.
He made his last regular-season appearance for Denver on Feb. 1, sitting out as a healthy scratch for the Nuggets’ final 30 games as they battled the Minnesota Timberwolves for the final playoff berth in the Western Conference.
Faried’s value had diminished to the point that he was part of a salary dump by the Nuggets in July, packaged with fellow power forward Darrell Arthur and a top-14 protected 2019 first-round pick to the Brooklyn Nets in exchange for man-without-a-roster-spot Isaiah Whitehead.
But while Arthur’s salary was flipped again to the Phoenix Suns in the deal to get Jared Dudley, the Nets have plans to make Faried part of their rotation in 2018-19, giving the Newark, N.J. native an opportunity to get his career back on the rails.
The offseason hasn’t been entirely smooth sailing. The 2012-13 J. Walter Kennedy Citizenship Award winner was arrested last month on marijuana possession charges, pleading not guilty last week to the single count of unlawful possession of marijuana, according to Michael Scotto of The Athletic.
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Faried offers the Nets a big, energetic body who will shoot close to the basket and crash the glass with abandon. In his seven-year career, Faried has been in the top 10 in offensive rebounding four separate times and is ninth among active players with a 54.3 percent career shooting mark.
What Faried won’t do is stretch the floor or space the offense. He has taken 20 3-pointers in his career and made two, the last coming on April 13, 2016, against the Portland Trail Blazers.
At 6-foot-8 and 228 pounds, Faried is a classic power forward who also saw some times as a small-ball center for Denver. Prior to his fade the last two seasons, he had career averages of 12.3 points and 8.7 rebounds per game (those figures now stand at 11.4 points and 8.2 rebounds, respectively.
Faried does bring a physicality and aggressiveness to the Brooklyn frontcourt that was lacking last season, as does Ed Davis, but it would be unlikely a pace-and-space coach such as Kenny Atkinson will look to pair the two at the 4 and 5 often, as the spacing would be severely curtailed.
Faried will be 29 in November and has never played more than 28.1 minutes per game or 2,248 minutes in a season, so there is definitely still tread on the tires. Whether he can modify his playing style to thrive in the pace-and-space era of NBA basketball is the big question he faces.