Coach Malone has moved Denver's 2011 first round pick to the bench for the first time since his rookie year. It might sound a tad off at first, but this is an excellent call from the Nuggets.
Kenneth Faried has yet to start in a single game this year after starting 64 of 67 games last season. At first, this sounds strange. Did he get injured or is he upset with the front office? That's a hard no to both of those.
Faried hasn't suffered a major injury and he actually stayed on the team despite the nightmare he suffered that we all call the Brian Shaw era. 'The Manimal' is actually assuming his new role from the bench. Malone's experiment with using Faried's energy and rebounding skills on the Nuggets secondary squad is working, and it's working well.
As of now, Faried is scoring 7.4 points, grabbing 9 rebounds, and 1 block per game. All of these numbers are among the lowest of Faried's 6-year career in Denver, but this can be explained with his new role coming off the bench and the reduction of minutes he is getting. The Manimal is playing only 23.9 minutes per game, the lowest since he received only 22.5 MPG his rookie year. Not to mention he is only making 5.6 shots per game while shooting at 42.2%, both the lowest of his career. Faried hasn't dropped in all categories, though, he's shooting 70% from the free-throw line and is averaging a steal per game, both the highest of his career so far. These stats only come from 8 games, there is still plenty of regular season basketball to play. In addition, Faried doesn't necessarily need immaculate numbers for the team to be doing well, his energy is doing enough to help The Nuggets win games.
All statistics aside, Faried has had some big games so far this season to help boost the Nuggets to a few W's. The Nuggets blew the Boston Celtics out of the water on November 6th, winning 123-107; Faried shot 8-12 from the free throw line and grabbed a 12 points/11 rebounds double-double. Again, in the season opener in New Orleans, Faried grabbed an impressive 14 rebounds and put up 9 points. On the other hand, Kenneth managed a measly 4 points and 5 rebounds in one of his shortest games of the year against Detroit; Denver lost the game 103-86. It seems the success of the Nuggets parallels the efficient production of Kenneth Faried. If this trend remains, it's wise for the Nuggets to get the most out of Faried the rest of the regular season.
The Manimal's new role has been an obvious improvement for the Nuggets as a whole. With Gallinari, Nikola Jokic, and Jusuf Nurkic starting the 3-5 spots for the Nugs, there doesn't seem to be any room for Faried on the starting squad. Malone and the staff have moved him to the bench, bringing with him the energy and aggressive behavior you would expect from someone named The Manimal. He isn't the only one who brings fire to the game coming off of the sideline. The team still has the likes of Will Barton, Wilson Chandler, Jameer Nelson, Darrell Arthur, and others to combat the secondaries of the Nuggets opponents. The Nuggets may not have an obvious single star, but damn do they have depth on their roster. The depth helps wear the opponents first and secondary squads down allowing for the Nuggets to be a second half team in theory.
Faried has brought his skills and abilities to the Nuggets bench and it seems to be a well-fit piece on this roster. The Nuggets are looking great despite their early 3-5 record. Most of the Nuggets Wins and losses have been within 5 points, meaning the team is fighting hard every game. The talent is there and the Nuggets seem to still be looking for a way to make it all mesh well together. Faried is an excellent addition to the bench and late in the 4th quarter during games. He is not the face of the franchise by any means, but having him on the bench improves Denver's chances of finishing games with a win.