Kenneth Faried could see — and feel — the change from the start. Extra players devoted to boxing him out. A rise in physical play. Opponents sometimes taking the desperate step of face-guarding him just so he couldn't get a rebound.

It has been that kind of season for Faried, the Nuggets' second-year forward, an eye-opening season of adjustments in a league that is quickly adjusting to him.

It has not been easy.

"Kenneth has played over 100 games, and the league is getting to know him a little better," Nuggets coach George Karl said. "There's probably more video of what you can do against him to control him. He's higher on the priority scouting report. But I don't want to analyze a guy that I think is doing his job pretty well. He's a 25- to 30-minute player on a team that wins a lot of basketball games."

Faried's second season is really his first.

Because of the lockout a season ago, he has never played a full NBA season. He has never felt the nightly push-back from opponents scratching and clawing and doing anything necessary to reduce or eliminate his effectiveness as much as he has in this one. He has played 2,186 minutes, 1,149 more than a season ago. That number is more than he played in his junior and senior seasons combined at Morehead State. He has played in, and started, 77 games, the most in any season on any level in his life.

"I haven't sat out a game, and I've started every game, and I've had ups and downs," Faried said. "But it's the NBA, so you've just got to learn. I'm only a sophomore. I'm still getting better each and every day."

Faried scoffs at the notion of a rookie "wall" zapping his energy, at least during games.

"At times when I'm at practice, it does," he said. "But games, it's a different energy level. I turn into a different person during games because I know that this is something that counts and my team needs me. And I believe, like last year, that in the playoffs I'm going to turn into a different person."