Soon after tipoff, Denver Nuggets forward Kenneth Faried pushed his tachometer into the red, as he so often does. Chicago Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau got to grinding and barking from one of the sidelines, as he so often does.
That’s when the potency of the situation hit home: If Faried played for Thibodeau, teaming their work ethics on any given night in The Association, the result would be like crossing the streams in “Ghostbusters.”
Total protonic reversal.
Too too much.
Faried has been outworking opponents since the day he arrived in the NBA as the No. 22 pick out of Morehead State in the 2011 draft. Using hustle, scrappiness and tenacity the way more refined players rely on touch, grace or hand-eye coordination, the 6-foot-8, 228-pounder from Newark, N.J., ranks 11th in the NBA in rebounding, seventh in offensive rebounding and ninth in field-goal percentage because of the high volume of dunks and layups. He had six and two, respectively, against Thibodeau’s Bulls Thursday night, part of his 9-of-10 shooting for 21 points and 12 rebounds.
It was his fifth 20/10 game this season and his 33rd double-double in 96 NBA games dating to the start of last season, and the Nuggets are 28-5 on those nights.
Denver, as a result, hasn’t missed Nene. It seems fine without Carmelo Anthony. All because it has The Manimal, Faried’s nickname these days.
Faried, though, sounds like he’s interested in making a name for the Nuggets. Routing the overachieving Bulls, who are said to be one Derrick Rose away from a title chase in the East, was the latest, greatest move.
“Not a lot of people see us when we play,” Faried said afterward, referring to the TNT network audience that was theirs Thursday. “So more people wanted to step to the stage on a nationally televised stage, and we brought it tonight. People might not respect us as much because we’re not on TV as much like a Clippers, Lakers or Knicks. But today we made a statement on TNT, showing everybody – hey, pay attention.”
So consider yourself forewarned, viewers: That would be Faried, most likely, testing the 120Hz refresh rate by streaking across your flat-screen in Denver colors.
Faried will get a chance under the bright lights again at All-Star Weekend when he competes both in the 2013 Sprite Slam Dunk contest and for TEAM CHUCK in the 2013 BBVA Rising Stars Challenge. But the man brings such a motor and such heart to his job, night in, night out, even in the dog days of early February, that it can make you wonder what other players – perhaps more skilled or polished – could do if they ran that hot.
Here are a handful off the top of some HTB heads.
- Tyrus Thomas, Charlotte Bobcats
- Andrea Bargnani, Toronto Raptors
- James Johnson, Sacramento Kings
- Michael Beasley, Phoenix Suns
- Dwight Howard, Los Angeles Lakers
Feel free to name some more, explaining why and how they’d benefit from a little more Manimal in their tanks.