Blazers notes: Faried makes impression on Blazers

By Matt Calkins, Columbian Sports Reporter

Published:

 

TUALATIN, Ore. — Nate McMillan said that nobody stood out, but maybe it wasn’t so much about standing out as much as it was sitting down.

The Trail Blazers held their first pre-draft workout at their practice facility Monday — bringing in six players fresh out of college for just more than hours’ worth of drills — but only one was seen lounging in McMillan’s office afterward.

Kenneth Faried.

The Morehead State product was an early candidate for last year’s draft before withdrawing his name to return for his senior year. Now, however, he is projected to go somewhere in the high 20s in the first round. And considering the Blazers have the 21st pick, they feel the 6-8 forward might be worth getting to know a little bit more intimately.

“That guy does everything hard,” said McMillan of Faried. “He ties his shoe hard.”

He also rebounds pretty hard. In his fourth year at Morehead State, Faried grabbed 14.5 boards per game and averaged 12.3 rebounds throughout his college career. Acting Portland general manager Chad Buchanan relayed a story about the 21-year-old, saying that as a child, he used to complain to his mother that the other kids wouldn’t pass him the ball.

“Then you go get the ball,” she told him.

That has apparently stuck with him.

Even so, Faried’s size has come into question. Shortly after a reporter inquired as to where Blazers executives took him out to dinner Sunday night, another asked: “Do you see yourself as a 3 or a 4?”

Answered Faried: “Whatever you want me to be. I believe I can play at the 4. I have the ability to rebound the ball and box people out.

And his response to those who say he is undersized?

“Thank you. And I want to prove them wrong.”

• • •

Buchanan said that the five other players working out Monday wouldn’t likely be picked in the first round. Among those in the building were: Jon Diebler (guard, Ohio State), Corey Fisher (guard, Villanova), Austin Freeman (guard, Georgetown), Matthew Bryan-Amaning (forward, Washington), and Isaiah Thomas (guard, Washington.)

Buchanan praised Diebler’s catch-and-shoot ability, acclaiming the fact that he was able to shoot above 50 percent from 3-point distance last year despite more than 75 percent of his shots coming from deep.

The GM also touted Fisher’s ball-handling skills, Freeman’s intelligence, Bryan-Amaning’s willingness to be physical and Thomas’ athleticism.

• • •

McMillan addressed the media Monday for the first time since Rich Cho was fired as Blazers general manager. His response to the news?

“I was a little surprised,” McMillan said. “I talked to Rich. He’s a good guy. I think he does good work. I was a bit surprised.”

McMillan was also asked to give his opinion on the NBA Finals.

“It’s hard to pick. Dallas is probably playing better team ball than anyone in the playoffs,” he said. “And I think Miami is on a mission. LeBron is on a mission to try and win a title.”

Matt Calkins can be contacted at 360-735-4528 or emailmatt.calkins@columbian.com