With the Brooklyn Nets season under way, a big name that has become the Sasquatch of the hardwood is waiting for a career resurrection.
After games against the Pistons, Knicks, and Pacers, we find the Brooklyn Nets at 1-2.
Of course, being a third of a third of a third of the way through the season, it is way too early to make any bold predictions or claims, like saying that former Net Sauce Castillo (Nik Stauskas) and current Net Caris LeVert will be duking it our for the Most Improved Player Award this year.
One things that you do start to figure out is the makeup of lineups. We’ve seen the Nets trot out flexible 5-out sets, with one big and four perimeter players.
We have also seen newcomers Rodiond Kurucs, Treveon Graham and Jared Dudley share minutes at the 4 position, while last year’s starters, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson and DeMarre Carroll, are sidelined. But there is one new Net we have heard very little from.
Kenneth Faried was added over the offseason, to bolster the Nets’ weak frontcourt. He is arguably one of the more accomplished Nets, being an integral part on the championship FIBA World Cup team in 2014 and first team All-Rookie in 2011.
Outside of D’Angelo Russell, he is probably the most recognizable name on the Nets’ roster to the casual NBA fan.
I mean he does have a Q Score of 22, which makes him as recognizable as two-time AL MVP Mike Trout, despite only playing 32 games last season and averaging 14 minutes in those games.
So with an accomplished athlete like “The Manimal,” why has he logged only six minutes this season? The short answer is is that he is a very limited player.
His big strength is in his drive and in his ability to rebound. Despite playing sparingly over the past two seasons, Faried has averaged a shade over three offensive rebounds and eight total rebounds per game in his eight-year career.
Last season, Brooklyn ranked last in the league in opponent’s rebounds per game and ranked near the bottom at opponent’s offensive rebounding. They also gave up a number of monster games to the likes of Nikola Jokic, Nikola Vucevic, Enes Kanter and Dwight Howard.
So the addition of a rebounder like Faried immediately helps the lowly Nets’ rebounding numbers.
However, outside of his rebounding skills and sheer drive, he doesn’t have a very big impact in today’s game.
Faried has never been a premier post presence on the defensive end.
According to a Bleacher Report deep dive into the advanced stats and metrics, Faried was the fourth-worst defender at the power forward position, citing his trouble on switches and, especially, against stretch big men.
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His skill set is very old school and would most likely work best at the 5. Standing only at 6-foot-8, the New Jersey native is a very undersized big man.
However, the Brooklyn Nets last season played a 6-foot-7 Quincy Acy at the center position, so there is a precedent for it in the Kenny Atkinson era.
From what we have seen so far, the Brooklyn Nets haven’t defended very well and have given up some big games to big men Andre Drummond, Blake Griffin and, again, Enes Kanter. Having the taller Ed Davis and Jarrett Allen just makes more sense to try and slow down these quality bigs.
On the offense end is where his value drops a lot. Never truly being a post player, Faried has made most of his damage with his ability to power into the paint on the run and off of rebounds. Outside of that, he is very limited.
He has only attempted 20 three-pointers in his career, most of which have been heaves with time running out.
If anyone is going to help a big man learn how to shoot the 3-pointer at ease, it’s Kenny Atkinson. It worked for Al Horford, Brook Lopez, Jarrett Allen, and even Timofey Mozgov, who tied a career-high with four 3s in his 31 games as a Net.
Faried confirmed reports that he is working on a 3-point shot in practice, saying to the New York Post:
"“[It’s] not a secret weapon for me. It’s just another part of my game that I’ve always had that coach Kenny has asked me to exploit more and show more.”"
Again the season is only three games young, the depth and flexibility that Faried brings to Kenny Atkinson’s bench will be put to use sooner or later. And at 28, there is still a lot of room for growth for a player like Faried.
Faried played six garbage-time minutes against the Pacers light, scoring eight points around the basket. He showed he can bring energy off the bench even when the game is already out of hand.
With the injury bug hitting the Brooklyn Nets’ 4 spot lately, there may be a possibility we see him in action at his natural power forward position.
It would be an absolute travesty not getting to see a lineup of D’Angelo Russell, Allen Crabbe, DeMarre Carroll, Kenneth Faried and Jarrett Allen. I don’t think those five together would work well in Atkinson’s system, but that lineup would be the best in the league in terms of hair.