Oklahoma City Thunder Should Pursue Kenneth Faried

The Oklahoma City Thunder and the New Orleans Pelicans are rumored to be the two teams interested in trading for Denver Nuggets’ power forward Kenneth Faried, according to Amico Hoops. A vacancy at the Thunders’ starting power forward position emerged following the team’s trade with the Orlando Magic involving Serge Ibaka. The Thunder have a jump shooting deficiency as well, which amplifies the need for Oklahoma City to acquire productive rebounding players. Kenneth Faried could be a cap friendly option for the Thunder to reload their roster quickly around their lone superstar.

Kenneth Faried is an upper tier starting power forward in the NBA and would certainly be an upgrade for the Oklahoma City Thunder. Last season, Faried averaged 25.3 minutes, 12.5 points, 8.7 rebounds, 1.2 assists, 0.5 steals, 0.9 blocks, and 1.4 turnovers per game. Kenneth Faried was an efficient player as well, Faried shot 55.8 percent from the field, 50 percent on 3-point field goals, 55.8 percent on 2-point field goals, and 61.3 percent on free throws. The production is certainly there for Faried, but he needs a change of scenery finally to take the next step as a player. Perhaps the Oklahoma City Thunder are that team that Kenneth Faried has been lacking?

Kenneth Faried 2015 Season Highlights (via 1677091 Productions)

After losing Kevin Durant to the Golden State Warriors, the Oklahoma City Thunder will need to fill his rebounding void. Kenneth Faried is one of the best rebounders in the entire NBA. Pairing a player like Faried with a dirty work specialist like Steven Adams would give the Thunder arguably the best rebounding frontcourt in the entire league. Faried averaged 8.7 rebounds, and Adams averaged 6.7 rebounds per game during the 2015-16 season. In all likelihood, a Kenneth Faried trade would need to involve a third team. Enes Kanter would be an ideal trade chip to try and send to the third team in this situation. It would open up cap space and would provide minutes to maximize the impact of Kenneth Faried.

Kevin Durant is one of the most dynamic and most efficient scorers that the NBA has ever seen. Unfortunately, Oklahoma City does not have that luxury anymore. Durant’s departure left the Thunder with a jump shooting hole that nobody on the roster can fill. Unless the Thunder can manage to acquire upgrades in the perimeter shooting department, there will be a massive need for players that can do dirty work and clean up missed shots. Sacramento Kings forward Rudy Gay could be a quality target for the Thunder to pursue, but there are not many options out there besides Gay. Acquiring Kenneth Faried should be the first step in a series of moves by the Oklahoma City Thunder for an ideal roster.

With a franchise player like Russell Westbrook, it is crucial to pair him with relief option near that basket that can efficiently finish at the rim and rebound the basketball. Last season, Westbrook averaged 10.1 drives per game, and he was just one of eight players to average over 10 drives per game. Kenneth Faried is an efficient finisher in the paint that moves well without the basketball. In fact, Faried averaged 4.8 points in the paint and shot 65.4 percent on those attempts. Westbrook is going to provide a majority of the offense for the Oklahoma City Thunder next season, so having two high-quality rebounders that can grab rebounds off of Westbrook’s jump shots is ideal. Westbrook shot 31.3 percent on catch-and-shoot attempts and 37.0 percent on pull-up attempts. Catch-and-shoot attempts and pull-up shots accounted for 9.4 of Westbrook’s 18.1 shot attempts per game, so there will be a need for multiple effective rebounding players on the court at the same time.

Oklahoma City would simply need Kenneth Faried to execute on his mid-range jump shots at a decent rate, he doesn’t thrive in this area of the game, but simply getting decent production to keep the defense honest is all that the Thunder would need. Last season, Kenneth Faried shot 32.1 percent from 10-to-16 feet and 34.3 percent from 16 feet and the space in-between the three-point the line. Faried would get plenty of open catch-and-shoot opportunities from lane penetration by Russell Westbrook, Victor Oladipo, and Cameron Payne. The pick-and-roll and set offensive sequences would provide quality attempts as well. The Oklahoma City Thunder will most likely rely on Westbrook and Oladipo for a majority of their playmaking responsibilities, which should naturally open up plenty of quality shots for Kenneth Faried if he were to be a member of the team.

Enes Kanter is the projected starting power forward for the Oklahoma City Thunder at the current moment. Kenneth Faried is a superior defender that provides a balance of size and athleticism, meaning that the Thunder would have a power forward that can bang down low against traditional centers and still be able to have the speed to defend small-ball power forwards. Kenneth Faried registered a -0.1 defensive box plus-minus last season, however, he was on a bad Denver Nuggets team. In previous seasons, Kenneth Faried’s lowest defensive box plus-minus was a +0.9. Enes Kanter is simply a defensive liability and will cripple the Thunder’s ability to defend at the high level that they need to overcome the departures of Kevin Durant and Serge Ibaka.

If the Thunder fail to acquire upgrades to their jump shooting at complimentary positions, then it’s time to embrace a low-efficiency offense that grinds out wins with their defense and rebounding. Oklahoma City could potentially field a starting lineup of Russell Westbrook, Victor Oladipo, Andre Roberson, Kenneth Faried, and Steven Adams. That unit is a solid lineup that can defend and rebound very well. However, they still have top offensive options that can create their own offense and create shots for their teammates. The Oklahoma City Thunder could still have pieces like Cameron Payne, Ersan Ilyasova, and Domantas Sabonis on their bench. There are still some value free agents that the Thunder could sign to bolster the remaining holes of their rotation and have a high-quality roster as a final product.

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