The start of their relationship was rocky.
Kenneth Faried’s frenetic energy fit beautifully with George Karl’s up-and-down, more unscripted offense. His raw athleticism was prized. Then last season in came Brian Shaw as coach and he wanted more traditional things out of Faried, who didn’t have a polished post game or midrange face up game that any team feared.
“Before, last year, we’d butt heads because certain philosophies he was going with I didn’t want to obey them or abide by them. I wanted to do my own thing and play more minutes. I was frustrated,” Faried told ProBasketballTalk. “But as the season went on, it sucked because guys went down, but we had to come together and click in order for us to win the number of games we won last year.
“It helped a lot going into this year, with me coming back from (Team) USA and the things I did there, he has even more confidence in me and plays me more minutes and make sure I’m on the court to help the team and make an impact.”
They’re good now, Faried and Shaw. They are on the same page.
The problem is the 1-5 Nuggets are not. Faried is frustrated, all the Nuggets are. Denver has talented players and the core of a team that won more than 50 games two years ago — himself, Ty Lawson, Danilo Gallinari and others — but they have a bottom 10 offense and defense in the early going.
Faried attributes the slow start to a hangover from all the injuries.
“Guys coming back from injuries, it’s tough right now,” Faried said of the reason behind the slow start. “We’re basically just trying to mesh and come together, and that kind of makes it difficult when guys can’t play full time. And some guys just have to sit out because of soreness.
“In the games, some guys haven’t played with other guys in a while, so we’re just trying to get it together. Training camp helped a little but it didn’t help to make us just ‘okay, all right, we’re clicking.’ Even the team that won the title isn’t meshing right now (the Spurs). It’s early, it happens, but it will sooner or later.”
Where Faried has always connected is with fans — Denver Nuggets fans loved the Manimal. This summer, Team USA fans jumped on that bandwagon as Faried became a key part of the USA’s gold medal run at the World Championships. So with that growing fan base Faried joined with American Express and NBA.com on their “Home Court Advantage” series that tells you more about the players. You can see one of Faried’s videos above where he has to defend some of his Instagram posts. And he really can’t.
“I do connect with the fans,” Faried said. “All the fans want to see is you play hard and give effort. If you can’t win the game you’re giving effort to win the game, you’re not just laying down and dying. That’s why I think the fans like me so much and then respect me, because I’m a player that gives effort, and I appeal to the fans with highlight dunks and blocks, making highlight plays but being solid…
“Home Court Advantage is showing them what I do, where I grew up, and just me being me.”
Faried connected with some frustrated fans in Detroit earlier this year when he talked about the Nuggets plans to let Josh Smith just fire away and shoot the Pistons out of the game with ill-advised jumpers. Smith responded by calling Faried a clown.
“I believe (the controversy) just took off out of nowhere,” Faried said. “I wasn’t trying to be disrespectful or anything. Josh is a star, he’s a great player, I was just saying what our scheme was, we were just going with our scheme, and I think the media took it as I was disrespecting Josh or I think I’m better than him. I don’t think I’m better than nobody, I just believe in myself.”
Nuggets fans believe in him, and now so does Shaw.