Kenneth Faried should have no problem securing any minutes of playing time during his sophomore season.
The undersized power forward from an unheralded college selected with the 22nd pick in the 2011 NBA Draft wasn’t supposed to see much time on the floor a year ago.
Between the NBA lockout virtually eliminating any training camp and pre-season opportunities, a coach in George Karl that typically shies away from rookies and a playoff ready team with a veteran roster, the chances for Faried were supposed to be slim.
Once the 6-foot-8 forward from Morehead State checked into the game, there was no denying his desire to make an impact.
Simply put, no one in the league is going to out hustle Faried.
Charles Barkley, one of the greatest rebounders in league history once said: “I always laugh when people ask me about rebounding techniques. I’ve got a technique. It’s called just go get the damn ball.”
Few players are better than Faried at doing just that.
His entire game is based on hustle.
In just 22 minutes of play each night, Faried averaged 7.7 rebounds per game to finish as Denver’s top rebounder, even though he played the seventh most minutes on the team.
The 3.1 offensive rebounds he averaged per game would have tied him with DeAndre Jordan and Tristan Thompson for the 13th highest average in the league, be Faried didn’t play enough minutes to qualify.
For the season, Faried grabbed 142 offensive rebounds, the 32nd most in the league, but only six players ahead of him averaged fewer than 25 minutes and he accumulated the total in just 46 out of a possible 66 regular season games.
While Faried was on the floor, he accounted for 36 percent of Denver’s total rebounds and 40 percent of its blocked shots.
When he wasn’t playing, Faried still managed to make the best of it, but by the end of the season there was no reason to have him on the bench.
His style of play, constantly running at full speed while attacking the rim on both ends blended in perfectly for the Nuggets, as they finished as the highest scoring team in the league, averaging 104 points per game.
Along with his rebounding proficiency, Faried proved to be an asset in the uptempo offense, often igniting a fast break with a shot block only to race down the court and send the ball through the rim.
Since he is still raw offensively, only possessing a reliable jump hook from close range, most of his points were off of dunks and layups.
Out of 309 field goal attempts, only 73 came outside of the restricted area as he connected on 58 percent of his shot attempts for the season.
Simply by knowing his limitations, playing to his strengths and never taking a play off, Faried forced the coaching staff to give him minutes and he started his final 33 games of the year.
Six of his 12 double-doubles came in the final 10 games of the season, including a 27 point, 17 rebound effort against Golden State, when he played just 24 minutes.
As Denver opened the post season against the Lakers, Faried proved to be one of the most exciting players in the league, averaging 10.4 points and 10 rebounds per game while continually providing highlight worthy dunks and blocks.
The Nuggets pushed Los Angeles to a seventh game in the opening round, but Pau Gasol proved to be too much, as he poured in 23 points along with 17 rebounds to close the series.
In the off season, Denver helped facilitate the Dwight Howard trade and picked up an All-Star in the process.
Andre Iguodala was brought in to provide a defensive impact on the wing and provides Faried another running mate in fast break situations.
In his second year, Faried will have every opportunity to play, as Anthony Randolph is the only other power forward on the roster.
In one year, Faried transformed from a player competing for playing time to being the most exciting player on the fastest team in the league.