Nuggets coach Brian Shaw proud of Kenneth Faried's work in Spain

Expectations will be high when Denver big man returns for training camp
by Aaron Lopez

Fan. Coach. Scout.

Brian Shaw has been a combination all three while watching Denver Nuggets forward Kenneth Faried rise to prominence with the U.S. Men’s National Team.

While not surprised by Faried’s success at the 2014 FIBA World Cup, the second-year coach wants the Manimal’s momentum to continue when the Nuggets convene for training camp later this month.

“I think it will help his confidence in terms of feeling like he belongs,” Shaw said during an interview at Pepsi Center this week.

“It will give him a sense of accomplishment knowing he could play on the biggest stage and do well. What comes with that is … we’re watching, too. We’re going to have expectations for him to continue that when he gets here.”

Through five games with Team USA, Faried is averaging a 13.8 points and a team-leading 7.8 rebounds. While Faried is shooting a ridiculous.791 from the field (34-for-43), Shaw has been most impressed with his assertiveness on defense.

“I’ve listened to the commentary (on ESPN),” Shaw said. “”I heard (analyst) Fran Fraschilla – and even Kenneth himself – say that he’s being more vocal and talking more defensively there (in Spain) than he did on our team. He sees that it’s important.

“As coaches, we want him to do that for us. He’s going to be in a leadership position as one of the faces of the franchise and a fan favorite. There’s responsibility that comes with that as well. He’s going to have to recognize that and accept that when he comes back.”

Even before his success in Spain, Faried was going to face high expectations heading into his fourth NBA season. He averaged 19.8 points on .550 shooting and 10.8 rebounds over the final 25 games of 2013-14.

He was among the initial 19 players invited to USA Basketball’s World Cup training camp in July. Even after withdrawals from Blake Griffin and Kevin Love, there were plenty of prognosticators who questioned whether Faried would make the final 12-man roster.

“I’m proud of him and happy that he’s showing why every team would love to have a player like Kenneth,” said Shaw, who won a gold medal with the 1986 World Championship team.

“The things that he does aren’t glamorous, but every team needs a player like him. He brings raw energy every night, goes after every rebound and loose ball, runs the floor and does all the little things that matter.”

Just two games into preliminary play, Faried was key to helping the United States overcome a five-point halftime deficit against Turkey. He finished with a team-leading 22 points and added eight rebounds, three steals and two blocked shots.

U.S. coach Mike Krzyzewski said afterward that he could not afford to take Faried off the floor.

Shaw would certainly agree.

“There’s been times in this tournament that Kenneth has energized the team,” Shaw said. “It’s exactly what they needed. A lot of times when you have stars from various teams, there’s a ‘cool’ factor that goes along with it. When Kenneth’s out there, he’s going to hold his defender accountable with his energy. They’ve got to respect him and honor him or he’s going to make them pay for it.”

As the United States prepares to enter the elimination round, the Manimal’s meter continues to run.