Blazers get closer look at rebound machine
Morehead State's Faried 'has that tenacity on the glass'
It's still 2 1/2 weeks to the June 23 NBA draft, but Kenneth Faried has made a positive impression on the powers-that-be inside the Trail Blazer organization.
The 6-7 1/2, 225-pound power forward from Morehead (Ky.) State was the centerpiece of a six-player group the Blazers flew in for a workout session Monday at the team's Tualatin training facility.
Faried was the only one of the half-dozen prospects under consideration for Portland's first-round pick (No. 21). Might the Blazers take him on draft night?
'He's a guy we'll look at,' acting general manager Chad Buchanan said.
Faried, the Ohio Valley Conference male athlete of the year for 2010-11, averaged 17.3 points and led the nation in rebounding with 14.5 per game as a senior for the Eagles, who went 25-10 and upset No. 4 seed Louisville in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.
The Newark native also averaged 2.3 blocks and led the nation in Player Efficiency Rating (PER) last season. During his four years at Morehead State, Faried averaged a rebound every 2.37 minutes, third-best among Division I players in the last 30 years behind only LSU's Shaquille O'Neal (2.25) and Nevada-Las Vegas' Keon Clark (2.26).
Faried, a second-team All-America selection, broke Tim Duncan's modern-era Division I career rebounding record. He shot .569 from the field and had big games against Louisville (12 points, 17 rebounds) and Florida (20 points, 18 boards).
'That's Dennis Rodman all over again,' Florida coach Billy Donovan said after the game. 'If I were an NBA general manager, I'd be taking him with my pick. That's what a next-level guy looks like. He just totally destroyed our frontcourt.'
Buchanan and Portland assistant GM Steve Rosenberry have watched Faried play for four years and know what he can do on the court. Buchanan and the rest of the Blazer brass and coaching staff brought him to Portland for get-to-know-him reasons more than anything.
The Blazer delegation took Faried to dinner at Oswego Grill Sunday night, put him through a 90-minute workout session Monday morning and then spent time visiting with him afterward. After the workout, Faried sought out every member of the Blazer party for a handshake and a thank you, a smile on his face.
'He's an engaging, likeable guy,' Buchanan said. 'You can see his personality when he plays. It's reflective on the court and off the court.
'He comes from a rough neighborhood in Newark. Then he goes to a small school in Kentucky and thrives there. That says a lot about a guy, because he was outside his element.'
Faried left Morehead State as one of the best players in school history, and one of the most popular, too.
'Kenneth is a chameleon, and I mean that in a good way,' Eagle coach Donnie Tyndall told reporters. 'He can be in a conversation with a businessman, a little kid, a retired person or a janitor, and people love him. He has that smile and that charm, and people know it's genuine. He has an unbelievable ability to adapt.'
Faried won't get drafted off what he showed Monday at the training facility. Despite his excellent field-goal percentage in college, he isn't blessed with great offensive skills. Rebounding is his thing.
'In a workout setting, it's hard to truly appreciate what he does,' Buchanan said. 'You need to let him go up and down the floor to see him run, to see his energy.'
Faried describes his game this way: 'No-nonsense. Just a tough all-around guy rebounding. I love to do it. I'm going to continue doing it, and I ain't backing down from nobody. I like getting my team extra possessions. It feels good we don't have worry about coming up with the ball.'
That coincides with what Blazer officials think of Faried. Coach Nate McMillan compares him to NBA veteran Reggie Evans, who has averaged only 4.3 points but 6.9 rebounds in his 10-year career. Evans played for McMillan in Seattle.
'Kenneth is willing to outwork you as far as his energy out on the floor,' McMillan said. 'He is very physical. He is not going to be intimidated by size or (an opposing) player. Based on what I've seen, it's like, 'Can you outwork me?' He has that type of mentality.'
McMillan was honest, though, when asked if Faried is the type of player who could step right in and help the Blazers next season.
'You'd be putting a lot on a young guy,' the Blazer coach said. 'We've had those guys, like (Dante) Cunningham and (Jeff) Pendergraph. Young guys like that can help, but there's only so much you can expect. There's going to be a learning curve for them.'
Blazer assistant coach Buck Williams - who at 6-8 and 225 was one of the premier power forwards and rebounders in the game in the late '80s and early '90s - sees potential in Faried.
'He has that tenacity on the glass,' Williams said. 'There's a premium on guys like that in this league. A guy like that could go pretty high in the draft.
'But he'll need to get a feel for the offensive side. He'll probably never be a great offensive player, but he'll need to get down the basic moves and be able to catch and finish around the goal.'
Faried is a bit undersized to play power forward in the NBA, 'but
rebounding is usually not about the guy who is bigger or jumps higher,' assistant coach Bernie Bickerstaff said. 'Kenneth has something you don't teach. It's instinct. Rodman had it. Larry Bird had it. You could barely get a banana peel under Bird's feet when he jumped, but he had the desire to go get the ball.'
Portland's other veteran assistant, Bob Ociepka, said Faried played a lot of zone defense in college.
'He's going to have to learn how to play in a man-to-man setting, but he has a lot of potential,' Ociepka said. 'For us to improve defensively, we need a stronger rebounder and a guy who will battle and help (LaMarcus Aldridge). Guys like this can help you.'
Buchanan related a story Faried told Sunday night.
'He said he came home one night after a game when he was in the sixth grade,' Buchanan said. 'He complained to his mom and dad, 'The guys never pass me the ball.' His mom said, 'Well, go get it. That's how you get the ball.'
'He said, 'That has stuck with me my whole life.' He understands what he does, which is important at our level. He knows what his role would be.'