Denver has one month to decide how much to offer Kenneth Faried.
Days before the 6-foot-8 forward traveled to Las Vegas to try out for a roster spot on Team USA, the Nuggets were exploring trade offers centered around their starting forward as they made a late push for Kevin Love.
Any offer Denver could put together was trounced by Cleveland and following his performance at the 2014 FIBA World Cup of Basketball, Faried could be in for a massive pay raise.
Still playing on his rookie contract, Faried is slated to earn $2.3 million next season and the Nuggets have until Oct. 31 to either sign him to a contract extension or he will enter restricted free agency next summer.
When the group of 19 players invited to try out for team USA first arrived in Las Vegas, power forward seemed to be the deepest position outside of point guard.
Four players capable of playing the power forward had been selected to one of the All-NBA teams last year. Love and Blake Griffin unexpectedly withdrew from the tournament before the practice session.
All of the departures opened an opportunity for Faried and he became one of the most critical pieces for Team USA as it won a second consecutive gold medal in FIBA play.
Aside from the energy he provided, racing down the court to ignite fast breaks, sprinting past the opposition for offensive rebounds or diving for loose balls, Faried became the most complete player on the team, posting a team-high efficiency rating of 17.4.
The 24-year-old led the team in rebounding at 7.7 per game, connected on 63.3 percent of his attempts while posting 12.2 points and playing the most minutes of any front court player this summer.
Denver has to immediately determine just how much that experience is worth.
30. Luc Mbah a Moute– Philadelphia 76ers
The player that encouraged Joel Embiid to give up playing volleyball and soccer to pursue a career in basketball will now serve as his place holder. Embiid is expected to miss up to eight months following a surgical procedure on his foot just days before the 2014 NBA Draft. Mbah a Moute was acquired by Philadelphia to help facilitate the trade of Kevin Love to Cleveland. Mbah a Moute has played for three teams in the past two seasons and has developed
29. Cody Zeller– Charlotte Hornets
The selection of Noah Vonleh with the ninth overall pick in the 2014 NBA Draft may force Zeller out of the starting lineup soon. Vonleh provides rim protection and long range shooting, both are areas of weakness for Zeller, the fourth overall pick of the 2013 NBA Draft. In his rookie season Zellar averaged 6.0 points, 4.3 rebounds and 0.5 blocks per game, finishing with just one double-double, providing a battle for the position in training camp.
28. Kevin Garnett– Brooklyn Nets
New coach Lionel Hollins already has made his first critical decision, announcing the future Hall-of-Fame forward Garnett would start and not Mason Plumlee fresh off his gold medal stint with Team USA at the FIBA World Cup of Basketball in Spain. Both players even received a rating of 77 in the video game NBA2K15 as Garnett is coming off the least productive season of his 19-year career, averaging 6.5 points, 6.6 rebounds and 1.5 assists in his first season with Brooklyn.
27. Brandon Bass– Boston Celtics
Scoring the ball was a major obstacle for Boston all season and with Bass entrenched as the starter again at power forward, it is hoping he can develop into a secondary scoring option for the team. Bass did submit 46 double-digit scoring performances last season, submitting his best outing against the Lakers when he poured in 20 points along with eight rebounds and a steal. Bass is worth a late round selection for any team in need of rebounding help, as he corralled five or more errant shots in 53 of his appearances.
26. Jason Thompson– Sacramento Kings
The 6-foot-11 power forward took a major step backwards during his sixth season in Sacramento. Thompson averaged career-lows with 7.1 points and 6.4 rebounds. The Kings have a trio of backups that will push Thompson for minutes and the starting position, as Carl Landry returns from injury, Derrick Williams tries to shake of his label as a draft bust after being selected second overall in 2011 and summer league standout Eric Moreland hopes to carve out a position in the league.
25. Markieef Morris– Phoenix Suns
It’s impossible to talk about only one forward named Morris at a time. Phoenix dealt for Marcus Morris, Markieef’s identical twin, at the trade deadline in 2013 in order to keep the two together. Prior to the 2011 NBA draft, the set of Kansas forwards reportedly informed teams they would take a discount to play in the NBA together. Markieef has been the more productive player, averaging 13.8 points, 6.0 rebounds, 1.8 assists for the Suns last season.
24. Amar’e Stoudemire– New York Knicks
New York has to last just one more season before the massive five-year $100 million deal of Stoudemire expires. Persistent injuries have made the deal one of the worst contracts in the league, as Stoudemire has sat out 105 games over the past three seasons and when he has been able to check into a contest, it was under a strict restriction of minutes. In 65 appearances last season, Stoudemire averaged 11.9 points and 4.9 rebounds for the Knicks.
23. Terrence Jones– Houston Rockets
Jones won the right to start at power forward and for a while, was among the best late round values in fantasy basketball. The native of Portland struggled to produce consistently during his sophomore campaign, as he averaged 12.1 points, 6.9 rebounds and 1.3 blocks per game. The ability to prepare this season as the starter from the onset of training camp, the Rockets are looking for Jones to become a reliable scorer in the post alongside Dwight Howard.
22. Channing Frye– Orlando Magic
The rare combination of reliable 3-point shooting and rebounding is main reason the Magic targeted Frye in free agency, signing him to a four-year $32 million contract this summer. Orlando was among the 10 teams to average fewer than seven made 3-point field goals each night and its shooting percentage of 35.3 percent tied the team for 20th in the league. Frye will help improve both of those averages, as he connected on 37 percent of his attempts from 3-point range and averaged two conversions from beyond the arc each night.
21. Josh McRoberts– Miami Heat
One of the first moves Miami made in the off-season was to bring in McRoberts, a 6-f00t-10 lefty that is one of the most well rounded players in the league. The former Duke star averaged 8.5 points, 4.5 rebounds and 4.3 assists per game. The assist total ranked as the second most among all power forwards last season and his 13 assist effort against the Mavericks ranking as the best passing by any player at the position a year ago.
20. Ersan Ilyasova– Milwaukee Bucks
Two years ago, Ilyasova emerged as one of the most promising stretch forwards in the league, averaging 13 points, 8.8 rebounds and connected on 45.5 percent of his attempts from 3-point range. Last season, Ilyasova;s struggles were part of the reason why Milwaukee finished with the worst record in the NBA, as he connected on just 40.9 percent of his attempts from the field, shot only 28.8 percent from 3-point range and saw his average slip by one full rebound for the third consecutive season.
19. Nene– Washington Wizards
The usual rebounding production for Nene essentially disappeared last season as he posted just 5.5 per game, the second lowest of his 12-year career. While the rebounding numbers may be lower than expected, the Wizards still managed to incorporate the Brazilian big man in the offense, as he averaged 14.2 points on 50.3 percent shooting from the field. The encouraging news for fantasy owners seeking an efficient scorer in the later rounds is that Nene attempted 11.2 shots a game, the most of his career.
18. Amir Johnson– Toronto Raptors
Expectations for Johnson were at an all-time high entering last season as he submitted the best effort of his career, pulling down 7.5 rebounds and swatting away 1.4 shots a game during the 2012-13 season. Both those numbers declined last season, as Johnson averaged 6.6 rebounds and 1.1 blocks. As one of the last prep-to-pro players in the league, Johnson has emerged with Toronto following three stints in the NBA D-League and the Pistons as well as a two month period with Milwaukee, but he was dealt to the Raptors without ever appearing in a game for the Bucks.
17. Carlos Boozer– Los Angeles Lakers
The rumor for years has been Chicago using its amnesty clause to rid itself of Boozer’s massive contract. Three years after the provision was included in the collective bargaining agreement, the Bulls finally exercised the option, shedding Boozer from the salary cap and making him an unrestricted free agent. The former Duke star didn’t remain unemployed for long, as the Lakers submitted the highest bid for his services, hoping he post numbers similar to the 13.7 points and 8.3 rebounds he averaged, giving rookie Julius Randle some time to develop .
16. David West– Indiana Pacers
As the player most capable of becoming the focal point of the offense in the absence of Paul George, Indiana needs West to submit another all-star caliber season. West managed the feat of being selected an All-Star twice during his tenure with New Orleans, but it has been five years and the 33-year-old hasn’t been able to approach the 20 points and eight rebounds necessary to receive the accolades during his three seasons with the Pacers.
15. Greg Monroe– Detroit Pistons
Detroit essentially gave Monroe an extended tryout with the team after agreeing to a one-year $5.5 million contract extension in lieu of a long term deal. Stan Van Gundy was not only hired as the coach of the Pistons, but was simultaneously named president of basketball operations for the franchise and the one-year deal gives him an opportunity to see if Monroe can become a cornerstone of the franchise. The former Georgetown star isn’t making a great first impression, drawing a two game suspension following his DUI arrest this summer.
14. Derrick Favors– Utah Jazz
The massive leap into super stardom has eluded the third overall pick of the 2010 NBA Draft. Utah gave Favors every opportunity to develop last season, allowing Al Jefferson and Paul Millsap to walk in free agency, opening up minutes, but his progress has remained slow. Favors averaged career-highs in scoring (13.7 points) and rebounding (8.7) but his block averaged slipped to 1.5, an area he was expected to dominate ever since he came into the league.
13. Thaddeus Young– Minnesota Timberwolves
All of his numbers were overlooked last season because they came on Philadelphia, a team destined for the draft lottery essentially on opening night. Young was among the few bright spots for the team, as he averaged 17.9 points, 6.0 rebounds, 2.3 assists and 2.0 steals per game. Now, he faces the daunting task of filling in for the recently departed franchise player on another team not expected to win many games.
12. Pau Gasol– Chicago Bulls
Once again Gasol shined in international competition. Even though he failed to lead Spain, the host country of the 2014 FIBA World Cup of Basketball, to a medal, Gasol still managed to showcase just what he is capable of providing in Chicago. The 7-footer averaged 20 points on 63.5 percent shooting from the field, 5.9 rebounds, 2.3 blocks and 1.4 assists per game. When the Bulls failed to land any of the max players in free agency this summer, the Bulls added Gasol to the roster, hoping his experience can help the team represent the Eastern Conference in the NBA Finals for the first time since 1998.
11. Serge Ibaka– Oklahoma City Thunder
The most reliable shot blocker of his generation became more of a factor for the Thunder. Ibaka led the NBA in total rejections, swatting away 219 shots, for the fourth consecutive season, but was able to average career-highs in scoring (15.1 points) and rebounds (8.8). Oklahoma City went out of its way to try and incorporate Ibaka into the offense, enabling him to attempt 12.1 shots a game, nearly four more than his career average. Ibaka continued his efficient shooting, as he converted 53.6 percent of his attempts from the field.
10. Tim Duncan– San Antonio Spurs
Duncan wasted no time informing San Antoino he would be returning to defend a championship for the fifth time in his career. Even at the age of 38-year-old future Hall-of-Fame forward is seeking a first for his career, this time hoping to win consecutive titles. The first overall pick of the 1997 NBA Draft will continue to have his minutes limited, but that hasn’t slowed down his efficiency, as Duncan averaged 15.1 points, 9.7 rebounds, 3.0 assists and 1.9 blocks in 74 regular season appearances.
9. Zach Randolph– Memphis Grizzlies
A year after saying he wanted to retire with the Grizzlies, Randolph moved a step towards that goal, rejecting offers from several other teams to sign a two-year $20 million extension. Memphis nearly pulled off an upset in the opening round of the 2014 NBA playoffs, forcing a Game 7 with Oklahoma City, but couldn’t claim the series in part because of Randolph’s absence. The 33-year-old averaged 18.2 points, 8.7 rebounds and 2.3 assists in the series, but was forced to miss the series finale, drawing a one-game suspension for throwing a punch at Steven Adams.
8. Paul Millsap– Atlanta Hawks
Atlanta was able to get the most value in free agency last summer, signing Millsap to a two-year $19 million contract. Millsap then submitted an All-Star performance, averaging 17.9 points, 8.5 rebounds, 3.1 assists and 1.7 blocks a game. His efforts helped the Hawks make an unexpected playoff run, securing the eighth best record in the Eastern Conference even in the absence of Al Horford. Once he began playing with Atlanta, Millsap unveiled a new aspect to his game, after attempting just 113 shots from 3-point range during his seven seasons in Utah, he connected 76 times from beyond the arc last season, converting at a rate of 35.8 percent.
7. Kenneth Faried– Denver Nuggets
Ever since he was selected with the 22nd overall pick of the 2011 NBA Draft, Faried has set out to prove what an asset hustle can provide at a professional level. This summer, he was able to showcase how much of a difference it can make internationally, as he unexpectedly became Team USA’s leading rebounder, pulling down 7.8 per game as the United States claimed gold medal honors at the 2014 FIBA World Cup of Basketball. The Nuggets have to find a way to play him more than the 27.2 minutes he averaged last season.
6. Dirk Nowitzki– Dallas Mavericks
The 2013-14 season proved Nowitzki was still up for the task of being the franchise player in Dallas. The 36-year-old showed none of the ill effects that derailed him the year before, as he averaged 21.7 points, 6.2 rebounds and converted 39.8 percent of his attempts from 3-point range. The Mavericks have spent the last two years trying to add pieces to alleviate the burden placed on Nowitzki each night, but his efficient shooting (49.7 percent from the field) still makes him the offensive focal point.
5. David Lee– Golden State Warriors
No longer facing the prospect of being dealt to Minnesota, Lee can once again prove just how effective of a fantasy player he can be in Golden State. Lee averaged 18.2 points, 9.3 rebounds, 2.1 assists and attempted 14.2 shots a night. One of the most under appreciated aspects of his game is his incredible efficiency, as the 30th overall pick of the 2005 NBA Draft continued a streak, shooting above 50 percent from the field for the ninth consecutive season last year, a feat he has achieved every year he has been in the league.
4. Blake Griffin– Los Angeles Clippers
Griffin proved he was much more than a high-flier last season. The four-time All-Star averaged a career-high 24.1 points and even showed some effective mid-range shooting from the left side of the floor. As his shooting range expanded, so did the overall impact of his play for the Clippers, as Griffin averaged 9.5 rebounds, 3.9 assists and 1.2 steals per game. More importantly, he was able to improve his free throw shooting (71.5 percent) enough that he was no longer a liability during crunch time.
3. LaMarcus Aldridge– Portland Trail Blazers
At this time a year ago, Aldridge was contemplating pushing for a trade out of Portland. A year later, he has pledged to sign a contract extension, worth up to $108 million over five years, with the team and is hoping to supplant Bill Walton or Clyde Drexler as the best player in franchise history. A 54 win season and historic run in the playoffs will change the complexion of anyone, but Aldridge is hoping to add to his game after posting 23.2 points, 11 rebounds, 2.6 assists and 1.0 blocks a game.
2. Kevin Love– Cleveland Cavaliers
The Cavaliers are eager to see if Love can once again lead all power forwards in scoring, assists and rebounds, only this time while playing for a contender. The numbers the 26-year-old posted last season were simply staggering, as he averaged 26.1 points, 12.5 rebounds, 4.4 assists and 2.5 made 3-pointers a game. Cleveland doesn’t need Love to dominate in every aspect of the game, just provide enough assistance to help live up to the championship expectations suddenly placed on the team.
1. Anthony Davis– New Orleans Pelicans
The Pelicans are only capable of going as far as Davis can carry them. In his sophomore season, the former Kentucky star shifted his expectations from franchise player to potential MVP candidate as he averaged 20.8 points, 10 rebounds, 2.8 blocks, 1.6 assists and 1.3 steals a game. Already one of the most feared defenders in the league, as he became the first player in five years to average 2.8 blocks and 1.3 steals in the same season and has quickly exceeded the expectations placed on him offensively. Davis was the only player in the NBA to shoot over 51 percent from the field and shoot 79 percent at the foul line.