Kenneth Faried has been on the trade block for months, thanks in large part to an impressive rookie season by Serbian sensation Nikola Jokic. It’s not often a second round pick finishes 3rd in Rookie of the Year voting to go along with an All-Rookie First Team selection but Jokic pulled it off. It makes sense that Kenneth Faried is very available and being shopped by the Denver Nuggets. Most recently Sam Amico reported that the New Orleans Pelicans and Oklahoma City Thunder are interested in acquiring Faried.
A transaction to acquire Faried would likely include Tyreke Evans for salary matching purposes; Faried is set to make about $12 million next season. Pelican fans will surely ask if Omer Asik would be included in a deal and the quick answer to that is no. Nuggets GM Tim Connelly is looking to move Faried to open up playing time and acquire assets most likely; not take on dead long term money at a position of organizational strength.
More interesting than the hypothetical transaction is the fit of Faried on the Pelicans roster, most pointedly beside Anthony Davis. We’ve already seen the two play together during the 2014 FIBA World Cup, where Faried and Davis overwhelmed international competition. However, the NBA will be a far different game should Faried and Davis team up in the Crescent City.
Individually Kenneth Faried had another solid season despite a decline in minutes. Averaging 12.5 points and 8.7 rebounds in just 25.3 minutes per game is nothing to scoff at; neither is his impressive 21.0 PER. His per minute production was at or above his career averages as well in a number of standard categories. For $12 million next season it sounds like a bargain.
Digging deeper the warts begin to show. ESPN’s Real Plus-Minus ranks Faried 80th among 94 power forwards defensively last season. Two years ago he ranked just three spots ahead of Ryan Anderson. According to NBA Stats the Nuggets have been worse defensively with Faried on the floor in all five seasons he’s been in the league. In four of the last five seasons (2014-15 is the exception) Denver has been worse overall with the Manimal on the court than off.
Kenneth Faried is efficient offensively, largely by avoiding jump shots at all costs. About 10% of his shot attempts come beyond 10 feet according to Basketball Reference. Synergy Stats reflects the nature of his offensive output well; 21.3% comes from putbacks, 20.8% from cuts (think dump off passes), 16.2% as the roll man, and 13.3% in transition.
While Faried is energetic and prone to producing highlight worthy dunks he’s nearly Ryan Anderson-bad defensively with a long trail of making his team worse when he’s on the floor. Imagine if you gave Omer Asik really good hands and explosive leaping ability. As a trade off, Asik has to shrink about five inches and lose the vast majority of his defensive impact (rim protection via height) and acumen (basketball IQ). Sure, the offense would improve with Faried diving to the rim with a surer set of hands. Defense, on the other hand, takes a huge step back.
More importantly, on the fit with AD and Faried, is it requires Davis to move to center nearly full time. That slides Omer Asik out of the starting lineup (creating some locker room tension) and puts Davis at a position he prefers not to play (probably not the best idea). Further, the Pelicans sit on two big contracts for Asik (nearly immovable) and Alexis Ajinca at the center position.
Ideally trading away Ajinca occurs at some point, but how would the Pelicans find a way to feature him to build value when Anthony Davis is logging the vast majority of his minutes at center? None of this brings into the equation that in order to acquire Kenneth Faried the Pelicans are likely attaching a real asset to Tyreke Evans to make the deal palatable for the Nuggets.
In the end the problem for the Pelicans remains, until further notice, that the defense is terrible. Steps have been made this summer to correct those deficiencies. Using future assets to acquire Kenneth Faried would be a bad move for New Orleans in the short and long term. An offensive upgrade in the front court who occupies the same spaces Anthony Davis has claimed while simultaneously cratering a terrible defense which has yet to prove capable in its new configuration.
Stay strong with mere competence this summer Dell Demps. Don’t trade for Kenneth Faried.