Every last NBA general manager probably wanted to pull his players from international competition after watching Pacers’ forward Paul George destroy his leg in the USA Basketball scrimmage last Friday, and it’s no different for Nuggets GM Tim Connelly when he’s watching Kenneth Faried fly around the basketball court in a Team USA jersey.
Faried is a promising player, and he’s the first Nuggets player with a real chance to make Team USA since Carmelo Anthony tore up the international circuit. Faried will be just the third Nugget to represent this great country of ours in basketball (if he makes the cut), joining Anthony and Antonio McDyess. Considering how injury prone the Nuggets were last season though, and considering Paul George’s injury, is it worth it for Faried to play for Team USA?
Yes, it is worth it! Simply put, the reward from Kenneth Faried battling against some of the United States’ and the world’s best basketball players is greater than the risk that he pulls a Paul George and is sidelined for the whole season.
Faried finished last season on a tear, and ended up averaging 13.7 points and 8.6 rebounds per game for the season while being one of the healthier Nuggets. Faried getting extensive experience battling the Demarcus Cousins and Anthony Davis‘ of Team USA’s roster will only allow him to hone those skills. This experience is invaluable to a young player’s career, and it should help him come into the 2014-2015 season putting up numbers like the 18.8 points and 10.1 rebounds a game he put up in the second half of last season.
Plus, no disrespect to the Nuggets summer coaching staff, but it’s got to be good for the young forward to be around one of the greatest basketball minds ever in Coach Mike Krzyzewski. We want Faried to become a superstar in the NBA, and allowing him to absorb some of the knowledge Coach K brings in practices, games, and off the court will only benefit a player whose about to begin only his fourth NBA season.
The concern is that his high flying, high energy, get around the court and hustle hard style makes him more susceptible to a season ending injury like the one we just witnessed in Vegas. The concern is that while playing international ball, he’ll do something that prevents him from becoming the 20-point, 10-rebound machine we all see coming.
That concern is misguided because it fails to look at the history of USA basketball, and it fails to take into consideration how much better a player can get while playing against the best in the world day after day. Paul George is literally the first NBA player to suffer an injury that severe while playing for Team USA. The LeBron James and the Kevin Durants of the league wouldn’t return to Team USA year after year if there was a serious risk of a major injury.
So, here’s to hoping Faried makes the cut for Coach K’s USA basketball squad, and here’s to hoping he uses that opportunity to make the Nuggets a better team while staying completely healthy.