Kenneth Faried

Nuggets’ Kenneth Faried suffers right hamstring strain

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Kenneth Faried in some ways symbolized the Denver Nuggets last season — athletic and with boundless energy to outwork his opponents, improving but still a bit raw and figuring out how to really play the game.

Faried’s ability to bring that same energy at the start of this new season could have been compromised — he suffered a strained right hamstring Thursday, reports Chris Dempsey of the Denver Post. As of now Faried is day-to-day with another evaluation to come on Friday.

Behind Faried on the depth chart is J.J. Hickson and this is an opportunity for him to shine — he may even be able to pass Faried on the depth chart. It wouldn’t be a popular move with the fan base (based on what I’ve read) but there is some real logic to it.

It’s pretty simple math as to why Shaw has to think about it — with Andre Iguodala gone (now in Golden State) and Danilo Gallinari not expected back until mid-season, the Nuggets need scoring. Faried gets some hustle buckets around the rim, but Hickson is by far the more polished offensive player. And as Brian Shaw needs points he could turn to Hickson as an answer — Hickson has started the last two preseason games. Just something to watch.

James Harden: “I am the best player in the league. I believe that.”

James Harden, Stephen Curry
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James Harden was the MVP last season — if you ask his fellow NBA players.

The traditional award (based on a media vote) went to Stephen Curry (in the closest vote in four years), and that was the right call (in my mind). But from the time it happened Harden did not buy it. And he still doesn’t buy it. In the least — and he’s using that as fuel for this season. That’s what he told Fran Blinebury over at

“I am the best player in the league. I believe that,” he said. “I thought I was last year, too.”

Well, it’s a more realistic claim than Paul George’s.

“But that award means most valuable to your team. We finished second in the West, which nobody thought we were going to do at the beginning of the year even when everybody was healthy. We were near the top in having the most injuries. We won our division in a division where every single team made the playoffs.

“There’s so many factors. I led the league in total points scored, minutes played. Like I said, I’m not taking anything away from Steph, but I felt I deserved the Most Valuable Player. That stays with me.”

That’s very Kobe Bryant of you to turn that into fuel. Defining the MVP Award is an annual discussion that nobody agrees on.

I could get into how Harden was the old-school, traditional stats MVP, how that ignores how Steve Kerr used Curry, and how that opened up the Warriors’ offense to championship levels. Curry put up numbers, but he was also the distraction, the bright star that Kerr used to open up looks for Klay Thompson, Draymond Green, and others. Curry’s strength was not just what he did with the ball in his hands, but his gravity to draw defenders even when he didn’t. Did the Warriors stay healthier than the Rockets? No doubt. Should Curry be penalized for that?

It’s simple for Harden — if he can put up those numbers again, if he can be the fulcrum of a top offense, he will be in the discussion for MVP again. And, if he can lead the Rockets beyond the conference finals, nobody will talk about that MVP snub anyway.