Since being drafted in the 2011 NBA , Kenneth Faried has been a constant source of energy and exuberance in the Nuggets lineup. His aggressive style of play and high energy on both ends of the court made him a fan favorite and earned him the nickname “Manimal.”

In his four years in the league, Faried has become of the best rebounders and high-flyer when it comes to dunks. On the other side, his defense and jump shot ability have been criticized, but to Faried’s credit he has continued to work to get better.

This was evident when Faried was called up to the USA Basketball minicamp, happening now in Las Vegas.

Now, the 25-year-old enters his fifth NBA season with a much bigger role. Faried is one of the Nuggets’ leaders now ,along with Danilo Gallinari and Wilson Chandler. All three players have recently signed contract extensions and with Ty Lawson gone, much of the Nuggets fate in both the short- and long-term will depend upon these three players ability to teach and lead the Nuggets talented young corps of players like Emmanuel Mudiay and Jusef Nurkic.

Speaking with Shaun Powell of, Faried says he understands what is expected of him.

“I know what I have to do, I have to be more of a leader. I get the biggest paycheck, so I have to be that leader. I want to lead by example, so when I do say something, my words will have volume.”

The leadership role is something that Denver has lacked going back to the Chauncey Billups days. While George Karl was able to send the Nuggets to the playoffs almost every year he was in charge, Denver seemed to still be a team without a true leader.

Now, with Brian Shaw gone and Michael Malone ready to take the team in a new direction, the Nuggets have coach ready to shape their identity as a team. Malone has a big task on his hand in his first year, and Faried is looking forward to a pre-training camp dinner with the coach to see “what he wants from me and also what I want from him.”

Faried adds, “I’m interested to see how he takes to training camp and takes to coaching, and also to other players, us veterans. The constructive criticism. I saw him in summer league and he looked good.”

Building a championship mentality is not something done over night, but it is something that the Nuggets should strive for as they enter their 40th season as an NBA franchise.

The recently-released NBA 2015-16 schedule signals the start of a new season approaching. For Faried and the Nuggets, they will want to start fast and try to erase what was an ugly 2014-15 season.

Above all else though, a different character and personality to this Nuggets team for the upcoming year would be refreshing to see and a step in the right direction.

A direction that hopefully leads back to the playoffs.

Sammy Mugharbil, a Mile high Sports intern and MSU-Denver student, contributed to this report