In the 2011 NBA Draft there was one player that I loved watching film on and that was Kenneth Faried. Faried was a 6’7 and some change power forward out of Morehead State. His numbers spoke for themselves as he was the NBCAA’s all-time post 1973 era rebounding leader with 1673. His 17.3 points and 14.5 rebounds were good enough to earn him Ohio Valley Conference player of the year his second year winning the award. A lot of scouts that I spoke with were leery of his size and small conference that he dominated for his last three seasons. The Denver Nuggets chose him with the 22nd pick.
For any player that’s a big man or coach that works with post players I would tell you to watch Faried play as many times as humanly possible. What will make Faried successful as an NBA player is his high-end activity level. The first thing to look at is the fact that he is running the floor on every possession. This opens up opportunities for his team to get either a fast-break point or forces a smaller player to have to guard him as he beat every other big man down the floor. On both ends of the floor Kenneth goes after every rebound and tries to get his hands on every ball. There is no wonder that he’s one of the best rebounders in NCAA basketball history.
He sets great screens freeing up wing players for open shots or forcing defenders to switch and has mismatches down low or a slower player guarding one of Denver’s perimeter players because of the good screens that he sets. On screen and rolls he sprints to the paint, again giving his team an opportunity to get an easy basket beating slower big men to rotate over to him. These are some of the things that Faried does to put his team in position to win.
The best trait that he possesses is a lost art in today’s game. He doesn’t need the ball in his hands to be successful. So many players in today’s game have no idea what it means to play basketball without having the ball in their hands for the majority of the game. So many post players feel as though a productive game for them is scoring 18 points on 18 field goal attempts. Too many players on the block want to catch the ball and back down their defender with 10 dribbles trying to overpower their opponent. Their style of play forces their other four teammates to stand around watching them try to score every time they touch it. This makes the player and their team easier to guard. It also cuts down the ball-movement making their team offense less efficient. Faried scores the majority of his points on running the floor, putting back offensive rebounds, and rolling hard on screen and rolls. All of these things are high percentage shots that happen in the flow of a game. His team doesn’t have to force feed him the ball to get points out of his position.
His style of play proves that being active and playing with energy can get big men into a game. Faried’s game lacks skill scoring with his back to the basket, but that doesn’t stop him from being effective. Post players at every level need to understand that activity level is a skill. You don’t have to be a scoring threat on the block to be a high level big man. If you run the floor, rebound the basketball, move your feet on defense, and can set screens there is a place for you on a team. Not everyone is blessed with great offensive skills to be a scorer. Kenneth is one of the smallest power forwards in the NBA at 6’7 and maybe behind Paul Milsap can be one of the NBA’s top undersized power forwards. He does this by being the most energetic big man on the floor and having an impact on the game with his activity level. He doesn’t just sit on the block and pout when he doesn’t get the ball. Faried finds ways to put his team in a position to win.
I was taught as a young scout the way you judge if a player has an impact on the game with their rebounding is to see if they can grab a rebound every four minutes or less. To figure this out divide a player’s minutes by the number of rebounds to get the number. A high level rebounder grabs a rebound every 4.0 minutes a game. Faried this season is averaging a rebound every 2.84 minutes. That means if he were to play 40 minutes in a game he would grab 14 rebounds. In his senior season at Morehead State Kenneth averaged a rebound every 2.39 minutes per game, one of the best rebounding displays ever in NCAA Basketball history. All of this at only 6’7.
The premise behind this post is to have players and coaches understand that scoring isn’t everything. A post player doesn’t have to be a great scorer to be a great player. They only need heart and a work ethic. Active post players are so hard to find, to be honest most are out of shape and lazy. If you can beat your man up the floor and have an impact rebounding the ball there is a place for you. To make it as a basketball player you have to find a way to get on the floor. This may be scoring, rebounding, passing , or a variety of other things. Develop one skill that you can do at a high level and you can be a good player. Develop two and you can be a superstar.