Why Kenneth Faried Is the Denver Nuggets' X-Factor for 2012-13

Preston DeGarmoAnalyst ISeptember 10, 2012

May 12, 2012; Los Angeles, CA, USA;    Denver Nuggets forward Kenneth Faried (35) in the second half of game seven of the Western Conference quarterfinals of the 2012 NBA Playoffs against the Los Angeles Lakers at the Staples Center.  Lakers won 96-87. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-US PRESSWIRE
Jayne Kamin-Oncea-US PRESSWIRE

Kenneth Faried isn’t a particularly skilled player by NBA standards. He can’t shoot, struggles to defend taller power forwards and has a mediocre handle.

There are plenty of things Faried can’t do on the basketball court, but more important is what he can do. And what he does, night after night, is absolutely play his heart out.

Faried is more than deserving of his nickname, "Manimal." After all, Faried was an absolute beast in his inaugural season. The 6’7” power forward averaged 10.2 points and 7.7 rebounds while also contributing a block per game. He was uber-efficient, too, shooting over 58 percent from the field while posting an incredible 21.94 PER, as a rookie.

Even more impressive: He did it all in just 22.5 minutes per game.

Faried’s recipe for success is remarkably simple, yet few other players manage to pull it off. He simply plays harder than his opponents.

His remarkable athleticism certainly helps, but Faried managed to put up outstanding numbers in his rookie season almost purely through his energy, intensity and desire. And while Faried won’t hit clutch fade away jumpers or put up 30-point games, it’s these traits that make him the X-factor for the Denver Nuggets.

Faired should step into a much larger role this season as a full-time starter, and will have the opportunity to play the starter's minutes that he deserves. The Manimal averaged 16.3 points and 12.3 rebounds per 36 minutes last season, so the upside is there for him to put up huge numbers in year two. 

But as much as Faried will help the Nuggets on the scoreboard, his most profound impact on the court may be a psychological one. 

More than any other player, Faried represents what the Nuggets stand for. Denver is a team built on energy and fast-paced play, and Faried proved last season to be the engine that kept this Nuggets team running at a full-out sprint even when they were too tired to jog.

Faried’s seemingly endless energy will be a key in allowing the Nuggets to reach their full potential this season. Denver’s starting lineup absolutely oozes athleticism, and Faried’s continuous hustle is bound to rub off on his teammates. Faried is young, and his voice may sometimes be overshadowed by the veteran presences on the team. But on the court, his desire allows him to lead by example in inspiring his teammates to out-sweat their opponents on the road to victory.

Although Denver looks to be one of the top teams out West in 2012-13, on paper they simply cannot match the pure talent of the powerhouse Lakers and Thunder.

Fortunately for the Nuggets, the game isn’t played on paper. It’s played on the court. And if Denver wants to be a true contender in the West, they need to play to their strengths, which means controlling the pace of that court. Which means, as a team, playing with the speed, energy and passion that Faried exhibits every time he steps on the floor.

The Nuggets lack the size to keep up with the Lakers in the post, but they outmatch L.A. in terms of speed and athleticism. Faried always looks to attack in transition, and if the whole Nuggets roster can follow his lead in pursuing easy buckets, they can partially neutralize Dwight Howard’s defensive impact.

The Nuggets have a ton of talent, but there’s no denying their underdog status when compared to the Lakers and Thunder. But with an experienced underdog in Faried leading the charge, that may not be a bad thing.

If the whole Nuggets team can play with the kind of passion that Faried brings to the table, they will be a very hard team to beat—and an even more exciting one to watch.