It’s a story heard many times before: A player spurned in the draft plays with extra motivation against those who skipped over him. Who wouldn’t want to prove doubters wrong, right? Denver’s Kenneth Faried is the latest to follow in that tradition now, though he’s played so well in his young career that his revenge plot evokes the way Randy Moss singled out the Dallas Cowboys (and then torched them) during his career as payback for selecting Greg Ellis instead in 1998. Faried is going after the Portland Trail Blazers.
The Nuggets’ second-year “Manimal” didn’t hold back when he told The Oregonian‘s excellent Jason Quick he doesn’t feel Portland’s treatment was right.
“I ain’t going to lie to you: I don’t like them,’’ Faried told The Oregonian this week in Denver. “I think it’s disrespectful what they did, got my hopes up for nothing. Every time we play them, it’s a little extra motivation for me to come out and show them what they missed.”
“They said if I was there at 21, they would draft me. They said they were hoping I was there,’’ Faried said. “But when the time came around … I mean, their front office and coaches decided to go the opposite way. I just took it as extra motivation. I remember saying, ‘If they don’t want to draft me, that’s their loss.’”
Quick spells it out from there: Portland fatefully chose Nolan Smith at pick No. 21 in the 2011 draft, and Faried went No. 22 to Denver. Smith didn’t get much of a chance to develop under Nate McMillan last season, a famously tough coach on young players, nor Terry Stotts this season. He has career averages per 36 minutes of 11.0 points, 4.2 assists, 3.1 turnovers and 42 percent true shooting. Per 36 minutes, Faried averages 15.8 points, 12.2 boards, 1.8 turnovers, 59 percent true shooting and grabs nearly 20 percent of all available rebounds when he plays. No debate there, especially for a team that noted “frontcourt depth” as a concern heading into the draft. Height and a jump shot were the two biggest knocks on Faried coming out of Morehead State, whereas Smith seemed to be a complete, polished package from Duke. On one hand, the players must have figured, you knew what you were getting, while the other was a wild card. How the roles have reversed now.
You do have to wonder if someone in the draft room in Portland loved Faried but lacked the clout to assert his reasoning for the pick. Remember, there was a power vacuum with Chad Buchanan filling an interim GM role, with then-team president Larry Miller also involved. Owner Paul Allen has alternately been described a manager who lets his trusted employees make their own calls, while also being the guy who fired Kevin Pritchard on draft day in 2010, then still made him work that night. Might there have been uncertainty trying to persuade team brass to go with Faried over Smith in that situation? It’s all conjecture now, but even with his gaudy stats, selling Faried might still be tough then.
Maybe the most impressive item about this Faried v. Portland showdown is that, somehow, the player who played sick and puked on the sideline while still getting a double-double, may yet have an extra gear reserved for the Blazers.
What do you think?
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