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New Faces from Old Places: Kenneth Faried

Brendan Vogt and Eric Spyropoulos give us some insight in the newest Rocket.

NBA: Brooklyn Nets at Boston Celtics David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

In the most recent installment of our “New Faces” series, we take a look at the newest Rocket, Kenneth Faried.

Faried completed his buyout with the Nets over the weekend and is slated to sign a one-year, veteran’s minimum deal with the Rockets as soon as today.

To get a better understanding of what the Manimal has to offer, we asked some of the people who know him best.

I spoke with Brendan Vogt of our sister site, Denver Stiffs, and former TDS staffer Eric Spyropoulos, who currently covers the Nets on HoopsHabit to answer my Faried-related questions.

1. What is Faried’s biggest strength?

Brendan Vogt, Denver Stiffs: Leaping ability. It’s no secret that Faried is a world class athlete and he’s built a career off of his bounciness. He’s not a particularly skilled player in the half court, but he’s an absolute terror on a fast break, and a guy like James Harden should be able to extract some value from him in pick-and-rolls. Faried is still a handful when he’s got a full head of steam.

Eric Spyropoulos, HoopsHabit: Back when Faried was making a name for himself with the Nuggets, his athleticism and rebounding were his biggest strengths. While undersized as a big man, Faried was tenacious in attacking the glass and was flying around the court for putback dunks and alley-oops. It is that energy, athleticism and rebounding that the Rockets hope can translate over to Houston, as James Harden still needs his alley-oop partner and the Rockets need a boost on the boards.

2. What is Faried’s biggest weakness?

Brendan Vogt, Denver Stiffs: Just about everything else. Faried was a quality player for a long time here in Denver, but the league has passed him by. As other players with his physical profile are expanding their range and working to increase their switchability on defense, Faried has failed to evolve. He’s still good for sparking a run or two off the bench, but it’s hard to imagine him with a large role on a modern basketball team.

Eric Spyropoulos, HoopsHabit: Defense was never a strong aspect of Faried’s game, especially when he is playing center, which he will do exclusively for the Rockets. He lacks the size and defensive instincts to defend the rim, which will entice opposing guards to drive into the paint every possession, with the result being a layup or dunk or a simple pass out for an open three. The Rockets are surely hoping that Faried can provide some more defensive value than Nene, Chriss, etc. through his ability to switch, though he has never been known to be a good switch defender. As Kevin Pelton pointed out in his piece on Faried joining the Rockets, “going back to 2013-14, opponents have averaged 1.03 points per chance on picks switched by Faried, according to Second Spectrum tracking. That ranks 143rd of the 147 players who have switched at least 250 picks in that span.”

3. Why did Kenneth Faried not work out with his old team?

Brendan Vogt, Denver Stiffs: The end of Faried’s run in Denver coincided with the rise of Nikola Jokic, and that dynamic hastened his exit. Faried played well alongside Jokic for short stretches as he filled the dunker spot well, but ultimately he failed to space the floor and mitigate Jokic’s struggles as a rim protector. He wanted to start, but he wasn’t a great fit, and Millsap’s arrival essentially slammed the door shut on the Faried era. He wasn’t willing to fill his new and reduced role.

Eric Spyropoulos, HoopsHabit: The Nets are basically “Rockets-lite” in their style of play, which means they want to have four capable shooters around their big man at all times. Of course, they still deploy Rondae Hollis-Jefferson at the 4, but that is mainly because he provides some wing defense and can handle the ball a bit. Faried doesn’t provide any of that and can’t shoot outside of the paint, which automatically limits him to playing center for the Nets. Unfortunately for Faried, Brooklyn has Jarrett Allen and Ed Davis filling all of the available minutes at the 5.

4. What is the best case scenario do you think could come of Faried joining the Rockets?

Brendan Vogt, Denver Stiffs: He can probably still give you 15-20 minutes in the right environment, and Houston might be exactly that. He should make for a decent pick-and-roll partner with Harden and he’ll get his opportunities on a team that’s stretched thin in the front court. The biggest question mark will be his effort and commitment on the defensive end.

Eric Spyropoulos, HoopsHabit: The best case scenario is that Faried is able to be a positive impact player and soak up a bunch of minutes at center to preserve Nene and P.J. Tucker. All he will be asked to do on offense is set screens for Harden and shooters and then roll to the rim for a pass or to clean up on the offensive glass. On defense, he will be asked to switch more, so the Rockets are hoping he can do a little bit better in that regard than his previous seasons.

5. Will Faried be a positive addition to the Rockets or will he fail to move the needle?

Brendan Vogt, Denver Stiffs: I think he *can* be a positive addition. His potential success there will be contingent upon his willingness to accept and flourish within a limited role, as well as what he can contribute on the defensive end. Context matters here: can he fill a hole for a team that needs some help as they wait for Capela’s return? Yes. Is he a needle mover insofar as he affects their championship aspirations one way or the other? No.

Eric Spyropoulos, HoopsHabit: I think it’s the latter. Faried hasn’t been a positive contributor in several seasons now, as the NBA has passed his game by. He is a limited offensive player (though playing alongside James Harden will surely make him look good) who is a negative on the defensive end, which is an issue considering he will be playing the most important position on that end of the floor. It’s likely that he’ll have his fair share of exciting highlights, but the team’s defense will continue to struggle. The best contribution Faried can realistically bring is being another capable body to limit the minutes for the other frontcourt players.