FanPost

Checking In On An Old Friend

Note: This is the first of what will hopefully be a long series of posts. Basically, I wanna go around the league and look at how some of the former Nets have been playing this year, how their respective fanbases view them, and what to expect going forward.

It was the spring-summer of 2010. The New Jersey Nets were coming off a disastrous 12-70 season that featured an embarrassing 0-18 start that eventually got Lawrence Frank fired and made the Nets a punchline in the national media (again). All of the losing and mocking was hopefully going to end up with the Nets drafting Kentucky phenom John Wall with the #1 pick in the NBA Draft and signing LeBron James during the free agency period. Of course, what did happen was...

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and eventually

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But during that in-between period from getting the #3 pick to the LeBron sweepstakes, there were plenty of discussions about what New Jersey should do with that pick & which player would be more productive. Some people (raises hand) wanted the Nets to take Evan Turner (quickly puts hand down) with the pick, but he ended going second to the Sixers anyway so no harm done. When draft day came, the choice at #3 was between DeMarcus Cousins of Kentucky & Derrick Favors of Georgia Tech. The Nets ended up taking Favors with that #3 pick.

When he was here

How was Favors as a Net? Let's get into the numbers:

Metric

Derrick Favors

Other Power Forwards

Minutes per game

19.5 21

True Shooting %

54 54.6

Usage rate

16.3 18.59

Turnover rate

14.6 12.72

Rebound rate

16.1 13.9

Assist rate

5.48 12.55

PER

12.6

15

Win Shares per 48

.083

.099

Wins Produced per 48

.099

.099

He didn't get as many minutes as the other rookies, but that was to be expected as he was still only a teenager. But there were some positive signs to take from his performance. He was very good on the glass, as he snatched 16% of the rebounds available while he was on the court. He was a decent finisher at the rim, as he banked on 62.7% of his attempts at the rim, which was a little below what other PFs did, but respectable nonetheless.

He did well on the glass as a Net, particularly on the offensive glass. Favors snatched up 13.7 percent of the available offensive rebounds while he was on the court. That led the team and ended up being one of the best marks in the league. That ability to corral offensive boards has been a strength of his throughout his young career so far. If memory serves correct, the Nets didn't run many offensive sets for Favors so the overwhelming majority of his offensive output came on put-back attempts.

Avery Johnson did like his game, but:

"You see him every night. He’s not ready," Johnson said.

Why'd he leave

The prevailing wisdom up until February 23 was that Favors was gonna get flipped for Carmelo Anthony. But that didn't happen, as Anthony got his wish and joined the New York Knicks. What did happen was that Favors, along with Devin Harris & two first round picks got moved to Utah for Deron Williams. How'd Favors feel about the trade?

"I'm not mad," Favors said. "I was real sad when they traded me. I thought it was all over with the Carmelo [Anthony] rumors. I thought I was going to be there but they wanted to trade me, so they traded me."

Favors feels he was drafted merely to be traded and never was part of any long term Nets plan. Almost immediately after joining up, his name was linked to the Anthony trade saga.

"I do feel that way. They wanted to trade me ever since I got drafted. It's a business and they have to deal with it," said Favors. "I thought about [why they drafted him at all] when they traded me. It crossed my mind but I didn't say nothing. They said nothing. Pretty much they didn't tell me anything."

Can't say I blame him for feeling like this. What was the general impression of Favors at the time? I think Tom Ziller of SacTown Royalty & the NBA page does a good job of encapsulating the view of most fans & analysts:

Unfortunately for the Jazz, defense is the most difficult factor to learn in the NBA. That Favors is so young, with only a season of college and a few months of Avery Johnson's (loud, throaty) direction in hand, extends the learning curve outward. Few doubt Favors will be really good at some point, but as the Nets obviously knew, "some point" is deep enough into the horizon that the franchise who develops him has to plan accordingly.

Favors ended up playing better as a Jazz (is this grammatically correct?), which got him All Rookie Second Team with Paul George of Indiana, Wesley Johnson of Minnesota, Greg Monroe of Detroit & Eric Bledsoe of the LA Clippers. Reflecting/projecting the future on Favors, Yucca Man of SLC Dunk had this to say:

With Favors, it's a similar thing. He's not perfect yet, but his post play is effective, his footwork is good, his rebounding is good, and his defense is magnificent. His mid-range jumper has good form and he uses good mechanics. Which also gives hope for his free throw shooting. And he actually uses footwork and speed to get a shot closer to the basket instead of one further away (Big Al could use a lesson on this, methinks).

The lockout took away a ton of development time for the young players in the NBA, but Favors made the most of his playing time when the league reopened for business in late 2011. What did he do in his first (almost) full season in Utah?

2011-2012

Derrick Favors

Other Power Forwards

Minutes per game

21.2

21

True Shooting %

53.3

53

Usage rate

20.66

18.61

Turnover rate

16.63

13.43

Rebound rate

17.7

13.6

Assist rate

6.88

12.85

PER

16.78

15

Win Shares per 48

.105

.099

Wins Produced per 48

.151

.099

Favors was essentially unchanged on the offensive end. The majority of his offense came from the inside, and he did a solid job converting on those opportunities. He shot 64.9 percent at the rim, which was a shade above the 64.1 percent other Centers converted at the rim. He was assisted on 55.3 percent of those makes, which was well below the 63.4 percent of times other bigs were on the receiving end of an assist. Favors has good footwork in the post and was great on the O-glass (10th best offensive rebounding rate in the league in 11-12), so it's no surprise that he was able to create his own shot opportunities.

The team took a step forward on defense thanks to Favors. On the whole, they allowed 103.6 points per 100 possessions, which, while still pretty bad, was a four point improvement from the season before. With Favors in the game, the defense looked even better, as they held their foes to 101.5 points per 100 possession. A lot of that gain was due to their superlative work on the glass. To put this in proper perspective, the top defensive rebounding team in the league was San Antonio, as they picked up 76 percent of their opponent's missed shots. When Favors was on the court, Utah grabbed 76.7 percent of the available defensive rebounds. They were the best defensive rebounding team in the NBA when Favors was in the game.

Even though the Jazz got swept by the San Antonio Spurs in the playoffs, favors did have a nice showing in one of the games. In Game 4, he played 37 minutes, had a double-double with 16 points and 10 rebounds, and this sweet ass block of Tiago Splitter:

This year

How's this season been going for the ex-Net? Let's take a look:

2012-2013

Derrick Favors

Other Power Forwards

Minutes Per game

22.2 19

True Shooting

51.2 52.7

Rebound Rate

18.4 13.8

Turnover Rate

13.72 11.61

Usage Rate

20.73 18.88

Assist Rate

4.75 10.20

Win Shares

.130 .099

Wins Produced

.195 .099

PER

18.8 15

Favors had been going well, but he ended up missing time due to plantar fasciitis. He returned against the Spurs last on 12/12/12, but only got 12 minutes of game action.

Before his bout with plantar fasciitis, Favors had been a monster on the offensive glass. So far this season, Favors has snatched up 15.8% of all the available offensive rebounds on the court. Utah has been a dominant offensive rebounding team this year, and with Favors in the game, that dominance becomes even more profound. Utah's grabbed 31 percent of their misses this season, and with Favors on court, they've gotten 36 percent of those misses. Without him? A 28 percent offensive rebounding percent, which is good but certainly not the earth shattering performance on the glass like they have with Favors. The dominance on the O-Glass has translated into two more free throws per 48 minutes with Favors in the game. For his part, Favors has been doing great (by his standards) at the line this season. He's drawn fouls 20.4 percent of the time he's shot the ball, and he is shooting a career high 71.4 percent at the charity stripe. That's certainly not great, but it's a step in the right direction.

The problem for Favors is that he hasn't been converting on all of those opportunities. He's been averaging close to five shots per game at the rim, but he's shooting only 60 percent, which is well below the 65.7 percent other power forwards have shot this year. Those struggles at the basket could explain why Utah has performed below their average on offense with Favors on the court. Utah has an offensive efficiency of 102.5 with Favors in the game versus a more robust 107.6 with him on the bench. I wouldn't fret too much about Favors' lack of success at the rim because he has a ton of ability and has been successful finishing at the basket in the past.

Favors' 6-10 frame has really helped him on defense this year. He's blocked six percent of the opposing team's shots, which is good for seventh best in the league. And that length has helped him hold other power forwards to a 12.6 PER and eFG% of 45.7% this year. Talking about a specific block Favors had in their playoff sweep at the hands of the Spurs last spring, ESPN True Hoop writer Beckley Mason had this to say about Favors' defense:

Already, Favors distorts defenses. When he moves through the lane, teams go to great lengths to keep him from catching the ball, knowing that when he gets it, his dominance of the airspace will come to bear. This draws defenders his way, creating opportunities for teammates. A Tyson Chandler lob or cut presented a similar threat and was a big part of the Mavericks offense last season, though even Chandler doesn't have Favors' quick first step.

The Jazz aren't what you call a great defensive team, but that's not Favors' fault. With him in the lineup, Utah's allowing 102.2 points per 48 minutes, while holding their foes to an eFG% of 47.2 percent. Something that was weird is Utah's struggles on the defensive glass with Favors in the game. Utah collected only 65.6 percent of the available defensive rebounds while Favors was on the court, which would be worst in the NBA. If last season was any indication, the team should pick it up on the glass with Favors in the game as the season progresses.

How's the Future Looking?

It's looking pretty bright. Favors is only 21, and he's been average-above average in each of his seasons in the league. One thing that hopefully changes soon is the amount of minutes he gets. Utah employs two All-Star type big men in Al Jefferson and Paul Millsap, so outside of playing Millsap at the small forward spot, it's gonna be real tough for Favors to get the minutes his play warrants (I should note that the Millsap-Favors-Jefferson frontcourt combination has been deployed for 52 minutes this season). Rob Mahoney of Sports Illustrated has more on this:

Favors’ two foundational skills — his finishing ability and shot blocking — could form a stellar all-around game if properly cultivated, and given the contract uncertainty of the Millsap-Jefferson tandem, the Jazz will likely need Favors to take on a bigger role sooner rather than later. So why not steal Favors some extra court time to refine his awareness and instincts now, especially when the only playing-time victims would be Marvin Williams and DeMarre Carroll? Favors needs as many reps as he can get at this point in his career, and if those opportunities aren’t going to come at the expense of Utah’s frontcourt, it should at least come by way of some lineup creativity.

Just how high is his ceiling? Let's head back to Yucca Man of SLC Dunk who, in my view, sums it up best:

Derrick Favors is the reason I hope.

It's astonishing when you think about it, but the Jazz have never had a post player like him. Never. He is freakishly athletic guy who can play C or PF, who can anchor the defense of the entire team while also being an effective go-to scorer. Not even Karl Malone, for all his greatness, was that type of player.

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