Morehead State’s Kenneth Faried has all the tools to be a high-energy menace in the NBA. But his size and pedigree may encourage teams to ignore what’s obvious – his talent.
Consider Faried’s strengths, according to NBADraft.net’s draft profile:
“Excels at doing the dirty work, in particular rebounding, defending and banging in the post … Plays with exuberance and aggressiveness … An above average, fluid athlete who is willing to sacrifice his body … Huge hands help him to secure rebounds. Athletic body … An excellent run/jump athlete with explosive leaping ability.”
Based on that, it’s obvious Faried can compete athletically at the next level. He can have an impact on the glass, on the defensive end and infuse energy into any team.
So, what’s the problem?
The first two weaknesses are his size (6-foot-7, 225 pounds) and the conference in which he played (Ohio Valley).
But let’s not compare him to Louis Admundson.
No, really, stop comparing him to the Phoenix Suns’ energy guy, better known for his hair than his game. That’s nothing against Amundson, who is a legitimate NBA player.
But Faried has bigger goals. He wants to be like his idol, Dennis Rodman.
On the court, of course.
According to NBADraft.net, Faried had a chance to speak with Rodman, who told the 22-year-old forward to approach every rebound like it was his. Faried has a head start on that.
He led the nation in rebounding last season, averaging 14.5 during his senior campaign. He made his biggest mark with a 12-point, 17-rebound output in 13th-seeded Morehead’s shocking upset of Louisville in the NCAA tournament’s second round.
Not only did he contribute to that win, Faried blocked Mike Marra’s potential game-winning shot as time expired. Faried, simply, is a winning player.
Need more proof?
His name is in the record book alongside Tim Duncan, perhaps the NBA’s all-time, team-first winner. Faried finished his college career with 1,673 rebounds to best Duncan’s all-time Division I mark of 1,570.
OK, Duncan played at Wake Forest in a competitive ACC, while Faried toiled in the Ohio Valley against the likes of Tennessee Tech and Eastern Kentucky.
No one is expecting Faried to be Duncan, considered by most as the best power forward of all time. As we know, Duncan has a versatile post game, a deadly face-up bank shot and way more size than Faried.
But it’s not out of the question for Faried to model himself after Ben Wallace, the four-time Defensive Player of the Year with the Detroit Pistons.
“Ben Wallace stuck in the league because he was able to block shots, rebound and be a great defensive presence,” Faried told MLive.com. “He started for the Pistons, won championships (sic) and made All-Star teams.
“I fully expect I can be able to do that, but it’s going to take time and progress. I’m just going to keep getting better every day.”
Wallace didn’t come from a big program, either. In fact, he didn’t even play at college basketball’s highest level, playing from 1994-96 at Division II Virginia Union.
Listen, Faried might not win a championship, Defensive Player of Year or have the impact of Wallace.
But will Bismack Biyombo or Jonas Valanciunas?
Biyombo has averaged 6.4 points and 5.0 rebounds in Spain, while Valanciunas plays in Lithuania and averaged 12.0 PPG and regularly came up small in Euroleague games. European basketball surely is better than the Ohio Valley, but have those guys really proved that much more than Faried? In the eyes of scouts they have, as both are projected as lottery picks.
Of course, it’s that time of the year. Players get micro-analyzed leading up to the NBA draft, causing people to miss their real worth.
Last week, Alan Hahn, the New York Knicks’ beat writer from Newsday, posted on Facebook that Faried measured 6-foot-6 without shoes. He added that he’s 6-foot-7 1/2 with them on.
Nothing against Hahn; he’s just relaying information, but one thing to remember here: basketball players play with their shoes on. Should we care that Faried is a bit undersized, especially so with his shoes off?
Sure, it’s relevant but shouldn’t define predictions about his future.
Instead, consider those who he has modeled his game after (Rodman, Wallace) and those who have succeeded more recently like Louisiana Tech’s Paul Millsap.
Rodman is 6-7, Wallace is generously listed at 6-9 and Millsap is 6-8.
None of them were automatic failures because of their heights and alma maters, and all of them entered the league with weaknesses.
There is a common thread in that group: a passion for accentuating strengths, rather than harping on weaknesses. In other words, the aforementioned group knows their roles – and shuts their mouths (at least on the court, in Rodman’s case).
“My scoring high? I really don’t know,” Faried told MLive.com when asked what kind of offensive player he would turn into. “I can’t really tell you that one, but I plan on my rebounding high to be 30-plus rebounds.”
With that kind of attitude, Faried has a chance to do big things in the NBA.
Or at the very least, bigger things than many of the 20 or so players – and handful of big men – projected to go in front of him in mock drafts.
According to the latest mock from ESPN’s Chad Ford, Faried will go 21st overall to the Portland Trail Blazers, whom Ford said “fell in love” with Faried last year before he withdrew from the draft.
Ford then reminds us that his “relentlessness” on the boards is a nice complement to scoring forward LaMarcus Aldridge.
If New York had a clue, they would select Faried 17th overall to collect all the shots that Carmelo Anthony will be hoisting up at Madison Square Garden over the years and give them a much needed presence in the paint. It would be a much smarter selection than Jordan Hill, who the Knicks picked eighth overall in 2009 because he had all the measurables. Unfortunately, he didn’t have any game.
But of course, drafting Faried would make too much sense for the Knicks.
Anthony Olivieri is the managing editor for LostLettermen.com. His column appears each Wednesday.