Kenneth Faried’s second-half surge hit another high point on Thursday night, when the Denver Nuggets’ power forward hit the game-winning shot to lift his team over the Golden State Warriors on national TV.
Faried, a practicing Muslim, has averaged an All-Star-worthy 18.7 points and 9.8 rebounds per game since the NBA All-Star break. The midseason respite fell on the calendar around the same time as the league’s trade deadline. Subject to trade rumors for months, Faried’s play suffered early but blossomed once the deadline passed and Denver didn’t move him.
The game-winner against playoff-bound Golden State gave Faried 18 points that night to go with 17 rebounds. His hot streak has also included a 34-point, 13-rebound performance against New Orleans on April 2, a stat line of 24 points and 10 boards against NBA-best San Antonio on March 26, and a 32-point, 13-board effort against the Lakers on March 7.
The Nuggets are out of the Western Conference playoff race, but it looks like the 24-year-old Faried has made himself a valued part of the franchise’s future. Pegged as a rebounder and defender with limited offensive skills when he was drafted out of Morehead State in 2011, Faried’s offensive game has progressed in strides. The fact that Nuggets coach Brian Shaw drew up a play in a clutch situation that seemed specifically designed for Faried — and even if it wasn’t, the fact that Faried had the confidence to take the shot anyway — speaks to how much he’s developed and how much the Nuggets trust him to make the big play.