Why Denver Nuggets Made Right Call in Keeping Kenneth Faried

D.J. Foster@@fosterdjContributor IDecember 4, 2013

DENVER, CO - NOVEMBER 1:  Kenneth Faried #35 of the Denver Nuggets celebrates a play against the Portland Trail Blazers on November 1, 2013 at the Pepsi Center in Denver, Colorado. 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. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2013 NBAE (Photo by Bart Young/NBAE via Getty Images)
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The New York Daily News' trade rumor involving Denver Nuggets power forward Kenneth Faried always seemed a bit odd, didn't it?

Teams don't typically look to deal one of their youngest and cheapest players when there are more expensive and less productive options on the roster tying up cap space. Solid big men on rookie-scale deals are awfully hard to come by.

It's also hard to decipher what the Nuggets would want in return for Faried. The Nuggets aren't rebuilding or competing for a title, and no cap relief is on the way next year.

You could argue that making the playoffs every year makes a franchise successful, but a disastrous offseason this year may have provided a little foreshadowing.

With that in mind, trading Faried in a simple player swap wouldn't move the needle much either way. Unless Denver is prepared to stay in this pocket of contending without actually being a threat for a title, making lateral moves is sort of pointless.

There's been significant interest NBA-wide in Faried, but short of including him into a blockbuster deal, it's unlikely Denver moves him.

— Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojYahooNBA) November 13, 2013

Besides, isn't Faried a perfect fit for what Denver wants to do? Leveraging perhaps the league's best home-court advantage is important and Faried's nonstop motor is only accentuated by the high altitude in Denver, which can be hell on opposing big men.

If you're relying heavily on transition and a unique stamina advantage, it would make sense to have a power forward on the roster who can outrun everyone else on the floor.

Mainly, though, the Faried rumors bring about an important question. Was it the right decision to raise the asking price in the reported deal with the New York Knicks for Iman Shumpert?

DENVER, CO - NOVEMBER 01:  Kenneth Faried #35 of the Denver Nuggets and Thomas Robinson #41 of the Portland Trail Blazers battle for rebounding position at Pepsi Center on November 1, 2013 in Denver, Colorado. The Trail Blazers defeated the Nuggets 113-98
Doug Pensinger/Getty Images


Looking Ahead

The schematic fit between Faried and the Denver Nuggets appears to be simpatico on the surface. ESPN.com indicates that Denver plays at the fourth-fastest pace in the league and Faried is one of the speediest power forwards in basketball. 

But while it seems like a great fit from the outside, perhaps Faried is viewed in a different light internally.

Here's what Grantland's Zach Lowe had to say when he predicted at the beginning of the year that Faried would be dealt at some point this season:

Call this a semi-educated guess. (...) Faried is entering the third season of his four-year rookie deal, and given his per-game numbers, he figures to get paid on his next contract. If the Nuggets believe Faried has hit his ceiling, and that his game lacks the all-around polish Brian Shaw has said he wants from his big men, it would make sense for Denver to see what it can get.

There are multiple points to touch on here, but let's start with Shaw. He inherited a roster with limited flexibility and shaping it in his own image may prove to be difficult.

Faried, JaVale McGee, Timofey Mozgov and J.J. Hickson aren't guys you can run an offense through, and that's something Shaw likely values given his upbringing as both a player and assistant coach. There isn't a lot of versatility with that group.

That speaks to a larger point with Faried.

Due to his limitations defensively as a rim protector and his inability to space the floor, it's hard to deem him a true building block going forward for Denver.

Is Faried a nice piece to have around? He certainly isespecially at his current price—but as Lowe mentioned, Faried will be due for a payday that Denver may not be able to afford coming soon.

It's better to be proactive than to forced to match an offer in restricted free agency that may not be palatable.


Finished Product?

Of course, it's possible that Faried won't always be so limited. Remember, this is just his third season in the league and it's dangerous to take what he's already accomplished for granted.

Faried averages over 15 points and 12 rebounds per 36 minutes on his career, with a PER of nearly 20. He's an elite offensive rebounder and transition player, and it's not hard to see him being the first big man off the bench for a title-contending team.

His energy is infectious, and good teams need that over the grind of an 82-game season.

There's plenty of room for specialists in the league. Dennis Rodman rebounded and defended on some of the greatest teams in NBA history, and yet he was completely worthless with the ball in his hands. Faried is a limited specialist in that same ilk and their career paths may not be all that dissimilar. 

You can look at Faried's projected development two ways.

If he manages to develop a reliable jumper and better floor vision out of the post, he'll be a monster. If that never happens, however, Faried may be in store for a decline once his athleticism begins to wane. 

That may lead Denver to the conclusion that selling high is the way to go, but wouldn't that indicate a lack of faith in the coaching staff? Faried has the athletic tools, and now it's up to Denver's staff to bring along his skills.

Personally, I wouldn't peg a player with Faried's drive and work ethic as someone who will completely plateau this early in his career.

Faried will need the support and a green light to develop, though. So far this season, Faried has put up just 29 shots from beyond eight feet, which would lead you to believe that he's not comfortable or not being encouraged to work on his jumper in games.

If Faried really has reached his ceiling already, shopping him does make some sense.

Given all the room Faried has to grow, particularly on the offensive end, I find it hard to believe that he won't get any better with time.


Hanging On

The rejected offer for Iman Shumpert tells us a lot about what the Nuggets may be looking for in a trade for Faried.

Denver was right to turn down a straight player swap, as going from big to small doesn't make a whole lot of sense when there are other young wing options (Jordan Hamilton, Evan Fournier, Quincy Miller) in addition to established veterans on salary (Danilo Gallinari, Wilson Chandler, Randy Foye) on the roster.

Add in that Shumpert is on the same salary schedule as Faried and it makes sense that Denver would ask for multiple first-round picksespecially considering how far off in the future those picks would come to fruition. 

Again, dealing Faried doesn't make much sense unless it provides Denver with direction. Shumpert is a nice player, but he doesn't do that.

If Faried is used to get Gallinari's deal off the books and begin the retooling process, that works. If he's traded for multiple first-round picks in a pure asset grab, that can be justified as well. But simply shuffling the deck instead of working to clear it is much more difficult to understand.

Until Denver's front office decides if it wants to buy or sell, hanging on to Faried is the right decision.


Unless otherwise noted, stats courtesy of Basketball-Reference.com.


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