Sports Illustrated dropped part one of its Top 100 NBA players of 2017 list Monday. SI ran through players 100-50, and two Denver Nuggets made the cut.
Veteran power forward Kenneth Faried came in at 87, while second-year big man Nikola Jokic ranked 78th.
SI credited Faried for his rebounding prowess, ability to roll and finish at the rim, and his energy. Faried grabbed 8.7 rebounds in 25.3 minutes per game a season ago. The “Manimal” was third in offensive rebounding rate, SI noted.
Faried wasn’t higher on the list because of his subpar jumper and inability to provide much in the way of help defense.
“Those working around Faried are restrained by all he cannot do — especially on defense — to the point that his bursts of activity wash against the whole of his minutes on the floor,” SI wrote.
Which is why you hear Faried’s name listed in trade rumors all the time.
Jokic, meanwhile, is a Nugget you can expect the team to build around for years to come. He came out of nowhere in his first NBA season in 2016 — quietly finishing third in Rookie of the Year voting — and should take on an even bigger role moving forward.
SI praised Jokic’s advanced offensive game, his passing ability in particular. It’s easy to see why.
There are a handful of centers on earth capable of setting a teammate up like that, and Jokic is one of them. He also flashed a promising 3-point stroke as a rookie and was strong on the glass.
It will be fun watching the 21-year-old Serbian develop going forward.
Sports reporter Christian Clark can be reached via email at email@example.com or on Twitter @_ClarkChristian.
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