Chandler returns to practice, Faried strains hamstring

Nuggets list Faried as day-to-day in advance of Saturday's preseason game
by Aaron Lopez

Nuggets forward Wilson Chandler returned from a strained left hamstring Thursday, but the news was tempered when teammate Kenneth Faried left practice with a hamstring injury of his own.

Faried, who led the Nuggets in rebounding last season, will be evaluated again Friday and is listed as day-to-day with a right hamstring strain. Denver’s next preseason game is Saturday against the Los Angeles Clippers in Las Vegas.

Nuggets coach Brian Shaw is hoping that Chandler will be able to make his preseason debut in Las Vegas. Chandler was injured on the second day of training camp, and the team took a cautious approach to his return.

“It almost seemed as if there was kind of a renewed energy because he was out there with the guys,” Shaw said. “For me as a coach, I was happy to see him out there. It gives us a more accurate look at what our team can really look like with him in the lineup.”

Being patient is nothing new to Chandler. Last fall, he was a limited participant in training camp and then sat out 34 of Denver’s first 38 games as he recovered from offseason hip surgery.

The summer presented a refreshing change for Chandler; he was able to focus on improving his game more than attending therapy sessions in the training room.

“It was a good summer for me,” he said. “I got a lot of rest and worked on my game a lot.”

Though he was able to enjoy some time in his native Michigan, Chandler spent the bulk of his offseason training in Denver. His commitment certainly caught the attention of new general manager Tim Connelly.

Asked which Nuggets player was most likely to have a breakout season, Connelly singled out Chandler.

“I could give you five or six names, but I really like how Wilson’s approached this offseason,” Connelly said. “He got here about two months ago. He’s in great shape. He’s got the right mindset. Playing for a guy like coach Shaw could really allow him to take that next step.”

As an assistant in Indiana the past two years, Shaw worked closely with forward Paul George, helping him develop into an All-Star last season. Chandler has a little more bulk than George, but both are strong defenders who can score in a variety of way at the other end of the floor.

Chandler played most of his minutes at power forward last season, averaging 13.0 points and 5.2 rebounds while shooting .413 from 3-point range. He will make the transition to small forward early in the season while Danilo Gallinari recovers from a knee injury.

“I think the (small forward) position is his natural position, from what I’ve seen of him so far,” Shaw said. “I like the versatility that he can play (power forward) as well. I’m even looking at leaning towards when Danilo comes back actually playing Wilson some at (shooting guard) and having a really big lineup in the ballgame.”

Chandler quietly prides himself on versatility. He now wants to add durability to the mix.

“My first goal is to stay healthy the whole season,” he said. “If I can stay healthy the whole season, good things will happen.”