Nuggets rookies successfully complete crash-course
After a week of two-a-day workouts on the Pepsi Center practice court, the newest Nuggets were rewarded with a trip to Red Rocks.
They weren’t there to watch Film on the Rocks, Reggae on the Rocks or anything remotely resembling casual entertainment.
For Kenneth Faried, Jordan Hamilton and Chu Chu Maduabum, this was a business trip.
The Nuggets class of 2011 wrapped up its four-day crash course Thursday by running the steps at Red Rocks Amphitheatre in Morrison. The views from 5,800 feet were breathtaking, as was the workout.
“It was real tough,” Faried said. “It’s real thin air up there. I couldn’t really breathe and got a little nervous. But we stuck it out and made it through. It’s just one of those things that you keep training, you’ll be unstoppable.”
Faried, selected 22nd by the Nuggets in last week’s NBA Draft, has asthma but, after week of training in Denver, he doesn’t anticipate having any trouble adapting to the altitude.
“I was a little worried early on, but the more I train, the more my body will adjust and the faster I’ll get, the higher I’ll jump,” he said. “Overall, just training here in Denver and being in this attitude helps you reach your top potential.”
It helped Faried to have two fellow newcomers going through the process with him this week. He, Hamilton and Maduabum developed a natural connection while working out with the Nuggets coaching and training staff.
The three were introduced to Denver’s offensive and defensive sets and terminology and pushed themselves to the point of exhaustion while going through countless drills during their morning and evening sessions.
“They tried to do everything we asked,” Nuggets assistant coach Melvin Hunt said. “They understood that we were kind of giving them a sip of water with a fire hose. They listened, they learned. They’re like sponges. It was fun because you didn’t take anything for granted.”
Faried even fought through a bout of dehydration after a protein shake didn’t sit well early in the week.
“We came in every day, we competed and we also had fun at the same time,” Hamilton said. “This is a good group of guys. We treated it like training camp and learned a lot of things.”
Hamilton, acquired on draft-night after being selected 26th overall, and Faried plan to work out frequently together in Los Angeles in the coming weeks. Their pickup games figure to include established NBA players such as Nuggets guards Arron Afflalo and Andre Miller, Minnesota forward Michael Beasley, Oklahoma City forward Kevin Durant, OKC guard James Harden and Golden State forward Dorell Wright.
Since the NBA will not have any summer leagues this offseason, Hunt urged the rookies to treat pickup games seriously and to get in the best possible shape before reporting to training camp next season.
“It’s pretty easy for me (to stay focused) because I’ve got the right people around me who are going to help me,” Faried said. “In L.A., we’ll train every day. I’ll be in great shape, ready to play.”