The New Orleans Pelicans and the Oklahoma City Thunder are among the teams that are reportedly interested in Denver Nuggets power forward Kenneth Faried, according to Amico Hoops. Trading for an athletic big man like Kenneth Faried would solve many problems that the Pelicans are currently facing. New Orleans does not have a lot of trade assets to offer Denver, but the Pelicans should be willing to do almost whatever it takes, within reason, to execute a trade.
The Pelicans have surrounded their superstar, Anthony Davis, with a few new players to make an instant impact on their team. New Orleans selected Buddy Hield with the sixth pick in the 2016 NBA Draft. Terrence Jones, E’Twaun Moore, and Solomon Hill were signed in free agency. Also, Tyreke Evans will return at some point next season from his knee injury. The additions of Hield, Jones, Hill, and a healthy Evans won’t be sufficient for New Orleans to take the next step as a team.
Last season, rebounding was one of the most prevalent deficiencies of the Pelicans. Kenneth Faried would be a great answer for improving the rebounding situation in New Orleans. As a team, the Pelicans averaged 42.6 total rebounds (22nd), 33.1 defensive rebounds (20th), and 9.5 offensive rebounds (23rd). Anthony Davis averaged 10.3 rebounds per game, yet nobody else on the Pelicans’ roster managed to exceed an average of 6.1 rebounds. New Orleans badly needs help in the rebounding department.
Kenneth Faried was one of the top rebounding players in the NBA; he averaged 8.7 rebounds per game last season. There is no better option that New Orleans could pursue that could make the impact that Kenneth Faried can in the rebounding category. In fact, Kenneth Faried was tied with DeAndre Jordan for second in the entire league in offensive rebounds per game with an average of 3.5 offensive rebounds. For a team that doesn’t efficiently score, like the Pelicans, they could surely use all of the offensive rebounds that they could possibly get.
Kenneth Faried 2015 Highlights (via 1677091 Productions)
The Pelicans ranked third in the NBA in drives with an average of 32 drives per game. Also, New Orleans ranked fifth in passes on drives with 10.1 passes per game. If Tyreke Evans manages to remain on the roster, those lane penetration figures should only increase. After the additions of Buddy Hield and E’Twaun Moore, New Orleans has improved their perimeter shooting and that will open up the lane for lane penetration. However, they still need a relief option near the basket like Kenneth Faried to be able to finish at the rim and rebound the ball on missed shots.
New Orleans has not had an elite offensive rebounding player or quality relief option around the basket like Kenneth Faried during the Anthony Davis era. Kenneth Faried averaged 4.8 points from the paint alone and shot an efficient 65.4 percent on those attempts and was one of the best interior offensive and rebounding players in the NBA. It is important to have a player that you can rely on to finish at an efficient rate when they are around the basket on drives, pick-and-roll, and cuts as a relief option.
Buddy Hield does not possess the ability to penetrate the lane and create his own offense with his ball-handling skills at this point of his career. However, Hield is a lethal catch-and-shoot player from mid-range and the perimeter. Hield shot 45.7 percent on three-point field goals. Hield can have shots created by moving without the ball and using off-ball screens. Adding a physical big man like Kenneth Faried would provide Hield with solid screens that can open up sufficient separation for catch-and-shoot jump shots.
New Orleans lacks a legitimate starting quality big man that can set on-ball screens in the pick-and-roll outside of Anthony Davis. Kenneth Faried would provide the Pelicans’ ball handlers with a player that can set hard screens and roll well towards the basket. Whether the sequence ends in the ball handler driving all the way to the rim, pulling up in mid-range, a teammate receiving an open shot, or Kenneth Faried himself receiving a pass around the basket, the Pelicans would dramatically open up their versatility in the pick-and-roll by adding Kenneth Faried.
Last season, Kenneth Faried recorded a -0.1 defensive box plus-minus. This particular metric is an estimate of the impact that a player makes per 100 possessions. In previous seasons, Kenneth Faried has always had a defensive box plus-minus of at least +0.9. Being on a better team should help Kenneth Faried’s defensive metrics. With his size and athleticism, Kenneth Faried would be a defensive asset against traditional and small-ball power forwards, especially alongside a rim protector and help-defender like Anthony Davis.
New Orleans could face some spacing issues if they do not properly use Kenneth Faried in off-ball situations. Spacing issues could exist because Faried is not an efficient mid-range shooter. In fact, Kenneth Faried shot 32.1 percent on field goals from 10-16 feet away from the basket and 34.3 percent on field goals from 16 feet and the space in-between the three-point line. It is important that Faried is used near the basket to maximize his strengths as a player. Since NBA teams scout the strengths and weakness of opposing players, Faried’s skill set should be common knowledge to the Pelicans.
There shouldn’t be spacing issues with a Kenneth Faried and Anthony Davis front court. Davis is a crafty post player that can shoot from mid-range and knock down fade-away jumpers. Davis can create space for his jump shots too, so having Faried around the hoop on the opposite side of the floor shouldn’t create many issues. Also, Kenneth Faried could vacate the weak-side short corner if Davis were to isolate in the low-post, then Faried would crash the boards once a shot is about to be attempted.
Anthony Davis thrives in mid-range as a jump shooter off of catch-and-shoot scenarios, on-ball screens, and off the dribble opportunities created by himself. Davis has been working on his perimeter jump shot, so the Pelicans could even go with a four-out offense in certain situations. There shouldn’t be any concerns about how Kenneth Faried would play alongside Davis since their skill sets appear to be excellent matches. It just depends on how head coach Alvin Gentry would decide to use Faried and Davis, but the potential is certainly present.
Solidifying their front-court with Kenneth Faried and Anthony Davis would be a great start for New Orleans to take the next step as a team. Denver has not allowed the public to have insight regarding what type of compensation they would desire in exchange for Kenneth Faried. It may take a third team for the Nuggets to receive what they desire, but as long as a deal doesn’t include Anthony Davis, Jrue Holiday, or multiple first-round picks, the New Orleans Pelicans should go through with whatever compensation is necessary.
[Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images]