The two players who have impressed me the most during summer league play have been Klay Thompson and Kenneth Faried. Thompson’s game is reminiscent of Allan Houston’s. They have a similar build, handle the ball fairly well and are dead-eye shooters. If Thompson continues maturing at this level, he may make Stephon Curry expendable in Golden State and entice the Warriors to bring in another pass-first defensive oriented guard to play alongside Thompson, or at the very least a more durable playmaker like the Bucks’ Brandon Jennings.
But the player who’s been the most exceptional has been Denver Nugget sophomore Kenneth Faried. Faried attacks every trip down the court as if it’s the closing play in the NBA Finals and his team is trailing by a point. Watching Faried corral in every rebound in a 3-mile radius has been a joy to watch. He’s reminiscent of a young Dennis Rodman with Ben Wallace’s physique.
And as evident in the quote below, Faried is not reluctant to assert himself as a leader:
“It doesn’t matter (that it’s Summer League),” Faried said. “It’s going to show guys that even the best player on the team can go out and still get down and dirty.”
Watching Faried play prompted me to go back and review last year’s NBA draft to see who was taken ahead of him. And while one can make slight accommodations for Tristan Thompson and the Morris Twins Markieff and Marcus because they played in better conferences, Faried has by far outplayed all of the forwards selected ahead of him in last year’s draft. As this draft is revisited in the coming years the teams who may end up being hurt the most by not selecting Faried are the Cavaliers and Charlotte Bobcats who selected the aforementioned Thompson and Bismack Biyombo respectively. Faried is precisely the kind of hard-nosed rebounder/finisher who would have helped the maturation of young point guards Kyrie Irving and Kemba Walker. A similar principle might apply to the Washington Wizards, but the Wizards already had Trevor Booker on board and he has a similar skill set and motor. There’s no doubt in my mind however that fans in Cleveland and Charlotte would have immediately rallied behind Faried’s blue-collar attributes, and high basketball IQ.