You know, Mario Chalmers was on this list.
And then, the Miami Heat have a COVID outbreak, and guess who’s back in the 305 despite strugglinig in the G League and in Puerto Rico this year? You guessed it: Rio, the former LeBron James soundboard, the damn Alaskan Assassin and two-time NBA champion.
(To his credit, he did play well in Greece last season though.)
But it signals where we are. This 2021-2022 season, we’ve already seen more basketball players suit up in NBA uniforms than any campaign prior. We haven’t even begun the whole 2022 portion of this yet. In fact, we’re a good two or three weeks from being halfway through the season.
Wild stat via @StatsWilliams of @ESPNStatsInfo:— Baxter Holmes (@Baxter) December 28, 2021
541 NBA players have played in at least one game this season, setting a record for the most in a season…ever.
It’s Dec. 27.
Seemingly everyone’s making jokes about staying ready for that call, but at this point, I’m looking at my high school stats like, hmm, maybe I could fill in for Myles Powell if I still got it. (I don’t. Never quite did either. This.... was always the more likely path.)
Believe it or not, there are still some names we’re going to see pop up who haven’t yet gotten the NBA opportunity during this already historic season. Some veterans are coming close enough to get noticed, while others are overseas yet to get a call because it’s just easier to pull a G Leaguer for 10 days. (More on that later, but not too much later.)
Kenneth Faried, Grand Rapids Gold
Kenneth Faried, 32, might get back on his name, and he was a good-ass player for a time. The explosive rim-runner enjoyed an eight-year NBA run from 2011-2019, which included peak seasons of 13.0 points and 8.7 rebounds per game on 53.6% shooting between 2013-2016 as an everyday starter for the Denver Nuggets. He's posted 11.4 points and 8.1 rebounds over his NBA career on 54.6% from the field.
Like many other vets, he was a step behind the productivity he once displayed; then, you looked up one day and the dude was out of the league. Even after being a center for the small-ball Houston Rockets of 2018-19, posting 12.9 points and 8.2 rebounds in just over 24 minutes per game, shooting nearly 60% from the field and having the third-best win shares per 48 minutes on the team at .198 (after James Harden and Clint Capela), we haven’t seen him in the NBA since.
In 2019-20, he played in China, averaging 17/10 while primarily coming off the bench, but considering what former NBAers tend to do in the Chinese Basketball Association, it didn’t garner much attention. He suited up for three games in Puerto Rico earlier this year for Leones de Ponce. One of his teammates, Aleem Ford, is currently with the Orlando Magic.
We also saw Faried suit up for the Portland Trail Blazers summer league team in August, where he led the team in rebounds by about three per game despite being ninth in minutes.
As BasketballNews.com noted earlier this week, Faried is returning to the G League, presumably for an advantage in proximity. Faried is coming off a stint with CSKA Moscow of VTB United and the EuroLeague, where he struggled. He averaged fewer than 3 points and 3 rebounds in 11 games while coming off the bench and shooting 33.3%. Someone might be willing to overlook that if he’s decent in the G League. Faried will be with the Grand Rapids Gold, the Denver Nuggets afflilate (and where Lance Stephenson played before inking his Atlanta Hawks hardship deal).