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A small part of why the Nuggets traded Nene: Kenneth Faried

Mar 18, 2012, 9:00 AM EST

kenneth-faried Getty Images

So many trades are made for singular reasons. A team will need to change its identity. A relationship between a player and a coach will become toxic. A player will be leaving in free agency. But there are often times trades that “make sense, ” as the popular phraseology goes, because they’re good for multiple reasons. It’s not just one thing, it’s a lot of things. The Denver Nuggets’ trade of Nene is a good example.

The Nuggets changed their long-term direction by trading Nene, giving up a quality veteran who can contribute to a championship team in favor of losing his long-term contract. The Nuggets signed him to a five-year, $67 million deal in December. They felt they needed his leadership, needed a viable center, needed to spend heavy to make sure they could contend for the playoffs. But two things became apparent as the year wore on.

One, the injuries Nene has sustained over the last several years have taken their toll on Nene. His ability to attack off the second jump, to get to loose balls, to function at full-speed consistently has been compromised. Nene is not at all a subpar player, were it not for his contract, this move wouldn’t have been made. There’s been discussion that this was always the plan, but that would seem to be a pretty far-fetched approach for a GM to intentionally give a player a contract he’s not worthy of. Nene’s contract was the biggest reason he’s now in Washington, and that has nothing to do with his effort, professionalism, or production, all of which are very good by NBA center standards.

But the other reason is Kenneth Faried. Faried was drafted by the Nuggets as a late first-round steal, but he was, of course, a rookie. Rookies that aren’t superstars have a hard time getting floor time with veteran coaches like George Karl. Karl even said before the season he didn’t expect Faried to get much floor time. Instead, the man they call Manimal is averaging 16 points and 13 rebounds per 36 minutes with a 22.4 PER. He finished with 18 points and 16 rebounds in the Nuggets win over the Celtics Saturday night, but it was a play that has zero box score impact that stood out to me and provides an excellent example of why the Nuggets were in a position to clear out their starting center.

Freeze that baby at the 20 second mark. That guy is 6-8, and that’s how high he gets.

Look, that’s a non-play by most standards. He didn’t block the shot. He didn’t recover floor to floor. No SportsCenter highlight reel for him. He just closed out on a shooter in a game in which the Nuggets already had a two-score lead with 35 seconds left. It didn’t win the game. But that kid in a game where he had nabbed 16 boards closed out on a great mid-range shooter in Brandon Bass with that kind of intensity.

In a few years, Faried may not close out like that. Hey may have to recognize like so many players do that you have to conserve energy for the grind. He may not be able to physically pursue. Let’s be clear here, this isn’t an indictment of Nene. It’s not “Nene would never do something like this.” Nene is a professional and a quality defender, who does his work in closing out on guys and has a world of physicality he brings to the table. It only serves to illustrate what the Nuggets already have down low before they even add JaVale McGee. And that’s straight up, mind you. He didn’t expose himself to be out of position. It was just enough to deter Bass. It should be noted Bass had an off-night, shooting 2-9 from the field. But it’s not hard to see a relationship between Faried’s detonation to contest and the miss.

Faried didn’t make that kind of explosion to snare a triple-double with a rebound, or on a breakaway dunk. That play won’t be remembered by anyone. But it should be noted that when the Nuggets evaluated what started the year as a big question mark for them down low and found that they could move forward in part because of the emergence of Kenneth Faried.

  1. ike73 - Mar 18, 2012 at 10:04 AM

    lol everybody looks like a great rebounder against the celtics. i wouldn’t get too excited.

    here in boston, we call it “all star for a day”. i believe steve nash pulled down 19 boards against the c’s.

    • llfreedman - Mar 18, 2012 at 11:27 AM

      I looked this up because it sounded so ridiculous, and I did not find this stat.

      • ike73 - Mar 18, 2012 at 12:22 PM

        my mistake. i believe it was 20

    • denverhoopdreams - Mar 18, 2012 at 12:13 PM

      You pretty much said in A LOT more words, “HEY EVERYONE LOOK AT ME, I AM AN IDIOT AND KNOW NOTHING ABOUT KENNETH FARIED.”

  2. ihatecomingupwiththesenames - Mar 18, 2012 at 10:06 AM

    Faried is the real deal. I think he and Shumpert are going to emerge as the biggest steals of this year’s draft.

    Watch this:

  3. djflav303 - Mar 18, 2012 at 11:48 AM

    Faired is on his way to being an all star, the trade also made room for chandler to come back. This team healthy is only one step behind okc in the west, because Durant is a top 3 player.

  4. denverhoopdreams - Mar 18, 2012 at 5:09 PM

    I’m right with djflav303 here.

    I have been watching Faried since we drafted him. Pro-am games in the summer, and watching his highlights from college.

    This kids only goal in basketball is to get rebounds, he says that is what he loves to do in the sport. So all he does is sit under the glass and wait for them. He’s going to be a 15-15 kind of guy on MANY nights. There are a lot of ignorant people that are saying he’s a nobody… I’m sorry, but he’ll be playing in a couple of all star games. Some people from PBT may remember me saying this after the draft as well.

  5. dexterismyhero - Mar 19, 2012 at 9:04 AM

    How come there is not a College Basketball Talk site.

    It would be better than this one…………just sayin

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