NBA PM: Faried Believes In Nuggets’ Direction
Senior NBA & College Basketball Editor
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Kenneth Faried - VIDEO OF THE DAY
Denver big man Kenneth Faried talks with HOOPSWORLD about the changes in Denver, his focus this summer and what he expects next season.Watch More Video Here
This has been a tough offseason for the Denver Nuggets. It started off with the loss of general manger and Executive of the Year Masai Ujiri, who took the same position with the Toronto Raptors. Then head coach George Karl had a falling out with the front office and ended up getting replaced by Brian Shaw. In the midst of that transition, Andre Iguodala was sign-and-traded to the Golden State Warriors.
Yet, they weren’t set back as badly by those losses as some teams would have been. There’s still a lot to be optimistic about in Denver.
“I think we’ll be fine,” Nuggets power forward Kenneth Faried said to HOOPSWORLD. “Andre made his own decision to go where he wanted to go. More power to him, do his own thing. Right now we’re focused on us I think we’ll be fine. We have the type of nucleus and team where guys will step up. I’m glad it happened during the offseason and not during the regular season because guys will step up.
“Maybe a guy like Ty [Lawson] will have a breakout season. I think that he really came alive in the playoffs last year. JaVale [McGee] can have a breakout season this year. And maybe a young guy can step up like Jordan Hamilton and Evan Fournier.”
Faried is coming off of a strong sophomore campaign in which he averaged 11.5 points and 9.2 rebounds a game. One of the changes that Coach Shaw has said he plans to implement is playing more inside then out.
“That’s going to be fun,” Faried said. “I get to work on some of the moves I learned from Hakeem [Olajuwon] that I’ve been harnessing and keeping as a nugget just in case a time does come, it’s going to be fun to see how that reacts especially with JaVale, me and him both went to the camp. It’s going to be fun to use it during the game and implement what we learned.”
Along with showcasing more of his low past game, Faried also wants to improve away from the basket. He finished 55 percent of his field goal attempts (most of which came around the basket) last season, which is a very high rate, but was below average at the free throw line, where he shot just 61 percent.
“My jump shot and my free throws,” Faried said when asked about what he’s trying to improve on. “My free throws especially. I get fouled a lot, I want to be able to get in the game late and coach say ‘Hey go knock the free throws down.’ Or if we got a technical foul and I’m on the court he say ‘Hey go shoot the free throw.’ I want that type of confidence and that type of free throw percentage.”
The potential for growth in guys like Faried, McGee, Lawson and the rest of the Nuggets’ deep squad is why it’s a mistake to write them off just yet despite the losses that they suffered this offseason. Internally, expectations haven’t changed a bit
“I’m very confident,” Faried said. “Guys are going to step up. We’re excited, coach is excited, the organization is excited. Hopefully our fans jump on board and are excited also.”
Muhammad Slips Up: The NBA is currently conducting its Rookie Transition Program to help incoming first-year players with their transition to the professional rankings. Nearly 50 players are in attendance to learn about life at the next level, but one player, Minnesota Timberwolves rookie guard Shabazz Muhammad, has already been sent home. USA TODAY Sports’ Jeff Zillgitt was the first to report the news.
There are a set of rules for the program, amongst which is no unauthorized guests. Muhammad had a female friend over Tuesday evening without permission and as a result was told to leave. He will have to complete the program next summer.
Muhammad will be fined along with his dismissal.
Muhammad’s slip up is the first one publicized from the program since 2008 when Mario Chalmers, Darrell Arthur and Michael Beasley were found in a room with women and the scent of marijuana.
Muhammad will remain in Southern California where he is working out in preparation for training camp. He will officially make the move to Minneapolis just prior to the start of camp.
Mo Williams Signs with Trail Blazers: The Portland Trail Blazers set out this offseason with upgrading their second unit as one of their top priorities. They already succeeded with the drafting of C.J. McCollum and Allen Crabbe, a trade for Thomas Robinson and signing of Dorrell Wright.
On Wednesday, though, they came to an agreement with a former All-Star point guard who will likely make the biggest impact of any player on their second unit this offseason.
Mo Williams will be joining the Trail Blazers on a two-year deal worth $5.6 million. Williams has a player option for the second season. He was also fielding interest from contending teams such as the Miami HEAT, San Antonio Spurs and Memphis Grizzlies.
Williams spent last season with the Utah Jazz, averaging 12.9 points and 6.2 assists per game in 30 minutes a night. He has also spent time with the Los Angeles Clippers, Cleveland Cavaliers and Milwaukee Bucks throughout his 30-year career.
The last time Williams came off of the bench was in the 2005-06 season, prior to his emergence as a certifiable starter. His willingness to sacrifice as an individual could be key in helping the Trail Blazers’ quest to end a two-year playoff drought. Their second unit was one of the worst in the league last year, but Williams should go a long way in helping fix that along with McCollum, Crabbe, Robinson, Wright and the development of second-year center Meyers Leonard.
Like McCollum, Williams is a versatile guard who can also spend a little time off of the ball. So, while his many duty will be to serve as the captain of the second unit and make sure the Blazers maintain a high level of play while their starters rest, there will also likely be scenarios where he is out on the court with Lillard at the same time.
With McCollum and Williams, the Blazers will also have the luxury of giving Lillard more rest throughout the course of the season. Lillard played 38 minutes a game as a rookie, but now has the depth behind him to lessen his workload, which should help him be fresh and healthy when it matters most.