Nuggets forward Kenneth Faried still has coach in his corner

Brian Shaw says he expects to see increase in the Manimal's minutes
by Aaron Lopez

Over the past two seasons, Nuggets fans have grown accustomed to seeing power forward Kenneth Faried on the court for 25 to 30 minutes a game.

When he played just 15 minutes in Denver’s season-opener, it raised some eyebrows across Nuggets Nation.

As the Nuggets prepared for their home-opener Friday, coach Brian Shaw was quick to address any concern that Faried has been relegated to a reduced role.

“A lot of people think I’m down on him because he’s not starting,” Shaw said. “That’s not it. He missed the last three preseason games (with a hamstring injury) and the practices that go along with those. I wanted to get a couple of good practices under his belt. He’s coming along. His minutes will increase.”

Faried, who started 80 games last season, and free-agent acquisition J.J. Hickson entered training camp competing for the starting spot.

While Faried dealt with his hamstring injury, Hickson was one of Denver’s best players throughout the preseason. He continued his strong play in the season-opening game at Sacramento, recording 12 points, nine rebounds and four blocked shots.

Faried responded Friday night with a double-double (11 points, 11 rebounds) in 24 minutes off the bench against the Portland Trail Blazers. He providing his trademark hustle and energy as Denver nearly rallied from a 26-point second-half deficit.

"He played with the kind of energy that people around here are accustomed to him playing with," Shaw said. "He always plays with a lot of heart. That’s what I wanted to see out of him. If he looked like he was getting that bounce back, we’d take a look at putting him back in the starting lineup."

Faried would welcome an opportunity to jump-start Denver from the opening tip.

"I felt like my old self from Game 1," he said. "It’s just waiting for Coach to feel like he’s more comfortable. J.J. did earn that (starting spot). He played the whole preseason and was playing well. Out of respect, I have to wait my turn.”