Kenneth Faried. Dennis Rodman. One a Manimal, One a Worm. Both skipped over in the draft. Faried was drafted 22nd overall, and Rodman 27th. Reasons for this vary, but both were considered to not have much of an offensive game and thus not given a chance as elite NBA talent. Well we saw how the Rodman story turned out, and I believe it is at this point safe to say Faried has the potential to do the same.
Watching Kenneth Faried grow and develop throughout this season has been an amazing story to watch. Drafted late by the Nuggets he was known as a great rebounder and defender, but wasn’t given a chance in the Nuggets rotations early. As George Karl told Denver Post reporter Benjamin Hochman early in the season after Faried’s debut, “…I don’t believe you give rookies minutes – they earn them.”
Then, due to various injuries sustained by the Nuggets, Faried was gradually given more and more opportunities. In the limited minutes Faried received, he made himself stand out by the extreme hustle and emotion he put in to every play. Despite being an undersized big man at 6-8′, Faried battled down low and fought tooth and nail to grab rebounds from players bigger then him. He dove for every loose ball, sprinted back on every play for defense. He began challenging every shot, and playing with such emotion that even refs began to give him some calls. And perhaps most importantly for him, he electrified the crowds with his gravity defying dunks not seen in Denver since the days of the the Skywalker himself David Thompson and gained himself some national attention.
As the season progressed and his minutes increased, the Manimal did not relax from his hard working and dedicated style of play. His offense gradually progressed and was epitomized with his 18 point 16 rebound night against the Boston Celtics on a night in which he did not miss a shot. George Karl gradually became more comfortable with him, and he soon found himself as part of the core of the Nuggets team.
Fast forward to the present day, Faried has become the energy, hustle and emotion that is so important to Denver’s success.
Now step back a moment and take Farieds name out of all that and substitute it with a different name. Rodman. Does not all that I just told you about Faried not sound exactly like Dennis Rodman early in his career. Before the defensive player of the year awards, before the All Star teams, and before the Championship rings, wasn’t Rodman an outstanding energy player who gave his all on every play? Wasn’t he a scrappy, undersized (6-7′) big man who simply had a knack for the ball and a passion for defense?
The only difference between the two now is what Faried will do moving forward. Rodman kept working hard every game, every year and was ultimately rewarded. His accolades stemmed from his innate raw talent and emotion which he evolved and polished into a potent basketball game. His success came from his ability to not only play hard every game, but his ability to improve every year.
For Kenneth Faried, that hustle, emotion, and determination is there now. His game is only in its infant stages and far from perfect. But if he, like Rodman did, can capture this energy and refine his game through hard work and dediction, well the sky is the limit for the Manimal.