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Nuggets pick Faried, trade for Hamilton, Miller

- Associated Press - Friday, June 24, 2011

DENVER (AP) - The Denver Nuggets are normally spectators on draft night. This year they made plenty of noise.

The Nuggets beefed up their frontcourt by taking forward Keith Faried with the 22nd pick and acquired the rights to forward Jordan Hamilton, point guard Andre Miller and a future second-round pick from the Portland Trail Blazers in exchange for guard Raymond Felton.

Denver also traded a future second-round pick for Chukwudiebere Maduabum, the Los Angeles Lakers' 56th pick in the second round.

Faried and Hamilton were both players the Nuggets coveted.

"It was very important to us to get a couple of young guys and address some kind of a need," said Masai Ujiri, Denver's executive vice president of basketball operations. "Both are NBA-ready and both need development. Jordan Hamilton is a good scorer, a really good shooter. Kenneth Faried is a great rebounder, and rebounding translates to the NBA. He fell right in our lap."

The 6-foot-8, 228-pound Faried was high on the Nuggets' wish list after he worked out with the team June 8 in Denver. The Nuggets love his physical style and rebounding prowess, skills that will strengthen their unsettled low post situation. Veteran Kenyon Martin is an unrestricted free agent, Nene is a restricted free agent and Chris Andersen is coming off a season in which he was hampered by injuries.

"I think I can make an immediate impact if they don't bring Kenyon Martin back or if they can't bring Nene back," Faried said.

Faried's 1,673 career rebounds set a modern-era NCAA record, surpassing Tim Duncan's mark of 1,570. He had 86 career double-doubles, one behind Duncan in NCAA Division I history.

Faried feels he can duplicate his success in the NBA.

"(Nuggets coach) George Karl said, 'We know how you play, we love how you play, we love your energy,'" Faried said. "If you rebound you'll find your way onto the court.

"I'm not scared. I have the attitude to keep going until I get the rebound."

Despite playing for mid-major Morehead State, Faried raised his profile with a strong showing in the NCAA tournament in Denver last spring. He had 12 points and 17 rebounds in the Eagles' first-round upset of Louisville. He blocked Mike Marra's 3-point attempt at the buzzer to preserve the 62-61 win.

Faried was named the Ohio Valley Conference player of the year for the second straight season after he scored in double figures in 33 of 35 games as a senior, and had 29 double-doubles.

Now he's returning to the city where he played his final college game.

"I had a great feeling about Denver when I played in the tournament there," he said.

The 6-foot-7, 220-pound Hamilton played two seasons at Texas. He averaged 18.6 points and 7.7 rebounds for the Longhorns in 2010-11.

The Nuggets are coming off a turbulent season that ended with their seventh first-round postseason exit in eight years. They dealt All-Stars Carmelo Anthony and Chauncey Billups to the New York Knicks for five players in February. Free of the distraction of Anthony's wish to be traded, the team won 18 of its last 25 to finish with 50 wins before losing to Oklahoma City in five games in the first round of the playoffs.

One of the players they got in the Anthony deal was Felton, who backed up point guard Ty Lawson.

This was the first time the Nuggets drafted a player in the first round since 2005, when they picked Julius Hodge at 20 and Jarrett Jack at 22. Hodge played 14 games in parts of two seasons with Denver and Jack was sent to Portland on draft night for Linas Kleiza and Ricky Sanchez.

After years of empty draft nights, the Nuggets feel they got two key pieces for their team.

"We feel we got a couple of good young players that could turn out to be a good help for our team," Ujiri said.

Miller, 35, played three-plus seasons with Denver before being sent to Philadelphia in the deal that brought Allen Iverson to the Nuggets in December 2006. He signed with Portland two summers ago and he averaged 12.7 points, 7 assists and 3.7 rebounds last season.

Ujiri said he talked with Miller after the trade and the point guard is happy to be back with the Nuggets and is willing to come off the bench. Ujiri also said Karl was ecstatic to have Miller back.

"He loves Andre Miller," Ujiri said. "He explained it to me that Andre Miller makes our young guys better and makes our team basketball solid."

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