Faried, Lawson embrace leadership roles with Nuggets
Dynamic duo responds positively after meeting with coach Brian Shaw
When Nuggets coach Brian Shaw drives around Denver, he often takes note of the two familiar faces he sees on billboards and bus-stop benches.
They are two of Denver’s most popular and productive young players. And with great popularity comes great responsibility.
Before practice earlier this week, Shaw and his coaching staff met with Lawson and Faried about finishing the season strong and embracing their role as leaders on the court and in the locker room.
“I just keep trying to encourage both of them to start thinking more in those terms,” Shaw said. “They’ve come to the forefront as the cornerstones that this team is going to be built around.”
Lawson, wrapping up his fifth NBA season, is in the midst of a career year, averaging 17.6 points and 8.9 assists. As the point guard who ignites Denver’s offense, he realizes there’s more to being a leader than simply putting up big numbers.
Like showing up early for team meetings and practices and staying late to put up extra shots with the coaching staff.
“We’re basically the leaders of this team, so we have to do that,” Lawson said. “Little things that we’re doing, (Shaw) would expect everybody else to do. They won’t have any excuses.”
While Lawson sets the tone at the point, Faried continues to supply boundless energy and blue-collar production that earned him a spot among the players being considered for the U.S. National Team.
After a monster March, Faried opened April with authority, scoring 34 points and grabbing 13 rebounds Wednesday night against the New Orleans Pelicans. He became the first NBA player since at least 1985-86 to reach those numbers while playing less than 27 minutes.
“It’s great to see,” Shaw said. “He’s a young player, and for him to finish the season strong the way he is right now will definitely carry over into his summer when he goes to play with the U.S. team … and hopefully into our season next year.”
After winning fans with his hustle and high-flying dunks in his first two seasons, Faried has taken pride in expanding his all-around game. His touch around the basket has improved, along with his free-throw shooting and ability to make plays for others in transition.
As a result, his confidence has grown – and will continue to do so as he sees his face on billboards and bus stops around Denver.
“It drives home the point that I’m one of the guys that fans get excited about,” he said. “Now, I’m thinking I am a leader and I have to lead by example. That’s what I’m trying to do.”