Faried, Lawson bring Team USA experience to Nuggets

Denver teammates building on lessons from USA Basketball mini-camp
by Aaron Lopez

As if Kenneth Faried needed motivation to play harder.

Already recognized as one of the most blue-collar guys in the NBA, the Denver Nuggets forward was energized this summer while participating in a mini-camp with the U.S. Men’s National Team.

“I learned how important it is to practice hard,” Faried said. “I practiced with elite talent, and guys were just giving their all. It reminded me back when I was in high school trying out for a basketball team and hoping to make the team. It really helped me refocus on what I want to achieve this year for me and the team as a whole.”

Faried and Nuggets point guard Ty Lawson were among 28 players who took part in the four-day mini-camp in Las Vegas. Both came away with an appreciation for the national team program and what it represents.

“That USA (jersey) is powerful,” Faried said. “You’re representing your country. It’s a different feeling. You have to go in there with a different mindset. It’s not all about you; it’s about the USA.”

Added Lawson: “Getting to play with all the young stars in one place, you gauge yourself and see how good you are and if you can really play with them.”

Lawson and Faried acquitted themselves well against tough competition. After three days of practice, the camp culminated with a showcase scrimmage open to the public. Lawson had a game-high nine assists, including one that set up Faried for a dunk. Faried finished with 11 points and seven rebounds in just 12 minutes.

“He threw me a nice dime so I could dunk. I threw him a nice kick-out for a 3,” Faried said. “We kind of looked out for each other. It was fun.”

Preparing for their third season together, Lawson and Faried are two of Denver’s key players as the Nuggets play their first year under coach Brian Shaw.

Shaw believes their Team USA experience will be invaluable as they take on bigger leadership roles this season.

"Last year when I was in Indiana, I thought (Pacers forward) Paul George benefited greatly from the previous summer, being on the U.S. select team, going against the Olympic team," Shaw said. "It's good to see what those guys' work ethic was like and how they pushed themselves in practice. Hopefully it'll serve the same purpose for Ty and Kenneth."