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The Curious Case Of Kenneth Faried

Credit: Clutch Points

Credit: Clutch Points

Nearly every sports fan around the world knows the predominant force in global basketball is the United States of America. They have the best league in the NBA and consistently produce the best players on the planet that are leaps and bounds above everybody else. The US has won 15 out the possible 19 Olympic Gold Medals for Men’s Basketball and they will continue to do so barring nuclear war.

The 2nd biggest global basketball event behind the Olympics is the FIBA World Cup which happens every 4 years and usually 2 years after the Olympics. However, the next FIBA World Cup will be in 2019.

Like the Olympics, the US usually wins the FIBA World Cup even though it traditionally fields a younger, weaker team than it would for the Olympics. This is because older, more experience stars want a rest in the offseason and the FIBA tournament doesn’t have as much prestige as the Olympics.

In the 2014 FIBA World Cup, the US dominated on its way to gold with a roster that featured many stars we enjoy today. James Harden, Steph Curry, Anthony Davis, and Kyrie Irving were some of the big-name players the US put together for its team. A player on that roster that many fans will be surprised to hear will be Kenneth Faried who, at the time, was a semi-decent player for the Denver Nuggets.

The previous NBA season Faried averaged 13.7 points and 8.6 rebounds for the Nuggets. A pretty good stat line, but not out of this world like something Anthony Davis or Steph Curry could produce. Maybe Faried was just going to be a good role-player coming off the bench for the US team? Well, Faried started all 9 games for the US squad, was their 4th leading scorer above Irving and Curry and was the team’s leading rebounder.

Faried played so well that he was rewarded with a 4 year $50 million extension which was a lot back then. You’d think that arguably the most important player for that US squad would go on and become an All-Star further down the round. He’s 29 now so right in his physical prime, but if you look at Faried’s career it’s nowhere near where you’d expect it. He was traded by the Nuggets for next to nothing in July this year and now has only played 5 games with 5.2 minutes an outing for the Brooklyn Nets.

What happened to Kenneth Faried?

To answer that we have to look at why Faried was so successful on that team of All-Stars for Team USA in 2014. It wasn’t Faried’s job to shoot shots, pass and play with the ball, it was his job to dominate off the ball.

Faried epitomized the player type I like to call a Finder; he finds his way to be effective amongst other players on his team on the court.

Finders are players that don’t need the ball in their hands to be effective. When I say “ball in their hands” I mean they don’t need to dribble the ball like LeBron, Durant or James Harden do to be at their best. Finders rarely have plays run for them but find points to score amongst plays being run for their teammates. They usually big men that rebound well (especially offensively), set great screens, are athletic and defend the rim. Rudy Gobert is a Finder, DeAndre Jordan is a Finder, Clint Capela is a Finder and for the 2014 FIBA World Cup Team USA basketball team, Kenneth Faried was a Finder.

Finders usually shoot a very high percentage from the field because they take (and make) efficient shots. These usually are putbacks, alley-oops, drop-offs and easy layups that are generated from the Finder playing with very high energy. Coaches hardly run plays for them because coaches know they can just send a Finder out onto the floor and the guy will go do his thing.

Every team needs Finders on their squad for the simple reason that there is only 1 ball being played with at any 1 time. Finders are so valuable because they are always their most effective no matter what. Players like James Harden aren’t always their most effective because they don’t always have the ball in their hands. You can usually tell a Finder from looking at his offensive rating and defensive rating which shows on average how many points per 100 possessions a player’s team scores and allows when that player is on the court.

Take DeAndre Jordan for example. Ever since he started for the LA Clippers in 2011 he’s averaged an offensive rating of 121.4 and a defensive rating of 101.7. This means that on average if he played 100 possessions a game his team would win by over 20 points each time. That seems like a recipe for success. Of course, winning NBA games is more complicated than that but there’s no denying how impactful Finders are in today’s NBA.

Faried was a Finder in his early days with the Denver Nuggets. He would average between 11-13 points a game, grab just under 10-9 rebounds and shoot around 55% from the field. He played with great energy, crashed the offensive boards and was always ready for a lob or layup when his team needed it.

So what happened to Faried? Why is he not the same player with the Nets as he was with the Nuggets? Well, another thing about Finders is that they aren’t as efficient when they are no longer playing with good players. Faried was so good for Team USA in 2014 because he was surrounded by world-class basketball players. With the Nuggets they had a lot of good players like Danilo Gallinari, Wilson Chandler, and Ty Lawson.

The Net’s best players are D’Angelo Russell and Caris LeVert. Russell is an ok point guard but I doubt he will be anything greater than that and LeVert tragically just broke his leg so he’s out for the rest of the season. Stars a great no matter what team they are on. Role-players can be good or bad no matter what team they are on. Finders are great on good teams and bad on bad teams.

This is the case for Kenneth Faried. If he wants to be considered a good player again then he needs to go to a top 4 team in either Conference so that his skill set can be put to good use. Otherwise, he could disappear from the league at the end of this season.