Kenneth Faried's focus never wavers. Basketball is basketball. He loves playing the sport no matter where he is, and he's constantly working toward being the best player he can possibly be.

His current experience playing with USA Basketball is helping him to achieve that goal.

"I've just played my game, tried to stick to the things I'm used to doing and what I know," Faried said. "I did OK."

According to decision-makers, Faried did more than just OK. On Tuesday, the Nuggets forward made it through the first round of cuts on the team, which will play in the FIBA Basketball World Cup in Spain from Aug. 30-Sept. 14.

Next up for the 16 remaining players is another round of practices Aug. 14-15 in Chicago, where they will also face Brazil in an exhibition game at the United Center on Aug. 16.

"I've just had fun every day and played hard — and just played the game I love," Faried said. "You want to practice against those types of guys every day, but when you do get the opportunity you try to thrive in it, and that's what I'm trying to do."

Faried had six points and seven rebounds in the Blue vs. White game in Las Vegas that was cut short after Indiana Pacers Paul George suffered a gruesome broken leg. Faried had started at power forward for the Blue team.


Advertisement

It is one part of a big summer for Faried, one in which his representation and the Nuggets have had ongoing contract-extension talks, and one in which he's adding to his offensive repertoire in order to come back next season with the same effectiveness with which he finished the 2013-14 season.

He averaged a career-high 13.7 points and 8.6 rebounds while shooting 54.5 percent from the field — ranking ninth in the NBA — in 2013-14. After the all-star break, Faried averaged a team-high 18.8 points, 10.1 rebounds and 1.1 steals.

"I'm not worried about it," said Faried, who is entering the last season of his rookie-scale contract. "I'm just worried about USA Basketball right now. That's the only thing I'm focused on right now. The extension, it will come when it comes. God has a plan. Whatever his plan is, he's going to see it through."

Nuggets general manager Tim Connelly would not comment on contract talks but did note his pleasure at how Faried has played on the USA team.

"I'm so proud of Kenneth," Connelly said.

When Faried returns to the Nuggets he's got a checklist of things he will have added or wants to enhance when he gets back. He's spent a lot of time working out in Los Angeles.

On the court, it's the development of a 15-foot jump shot.

"So I'm able to step out and pick-and-pop more," Faried said. "And if I need to, pick-and-roll."

In the locker room, it's "being more of a leader, a lot more of a leader. Trying to step up into that leadership role."

Christopher Dempsey: cdempsey@denverpost.com or twitter.com/dempseypost