Kyrie Irving Wins Rookie of the Year, but Kenneth Faried Is This Year's Story

LOS ANGELES, CA - MAY 12:  Pau Gasol #16 of the Los Angeles Lakers goes up for a dunk over Timofey Mozgov #25 and Kenneth Faried #35 of the Denver Nuggets in Game Seven of the Western Conference Quarterfinals in the 2012 NBA Playoffs on May 12, 2012 at Staples Center in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
Harry How/Getty Images
Ethan Sherwood StraussNBA Lead WriterMay 15, 2012

Kyrie Irving won Rookie of the Year today, but he really won it before the All-Star break, then lapped the field a couple of times. Awards are funny in that way: The better the winner, the less interesting his coronation. 

But there is one rookie—and only one—who touched Irving's production on a per-minute basis. And the fact that Kenneth "Manimal" Faried was the rookie who pulled it off is a miracle.

He's an undersized power forward who can't shoot, hailing from Morehead State—a college I had never heard of until learning of Faried. 

With the way the 22nd pick in the draft has produced (18.2 points, 13.6 rebounds per 40 per minutes), I wonder if the Cavs regret not pairing Faried with Irving. Tristan Thompson has shown potential, but the Manimal can control the game for stretches with tireless rebounding. 

Like a pogo stick, the subsequent jumps are often higher than the first. He simply won't give up on a rebound and has the tactile sense to tap the ball from the fray. He is the portrait of controlled chaos: dreads flying, arms splayed, yet doing the refined work necessary to pry loose the ball from the scrum. 

So yes, Kyrie Irving is the clear ROY and an emerging superstar at his position. 

But here's the most incredible question raised by the 2011 NBA draft: "Is Kenneth Faried its second-best player?" 

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