Derrick Favors. Wait, Who?


Dec 9, 2014; Salt Lake City, UT, USA; Utah Jazz guard

Alec Burks

(10) and forward

Derrick Favors

(15) block the shot by San Antonio Spurs forward

Tim Duncan

(21) during the second half at EnergySolutions Arena. The Jazz won 100-96. Mandatory Credit: Russ Isabella-USA TODAY Sports

Amid the hustle and bustle of flashy play from Enes Kanter and Rudy Gobert, and more shiny examples of potential from Dante Exum, we seem to have forgotten all about Derrick Favors. “Wait, who?” I know, right? Even guys like Joe Ingles and Rodney Hood are getting more burn than the Utah Jazz’s best big man.

And make no mistake, Derrick Favors is still the Jazz’s best big man. It’s just that he goes quietly about his business night in and night out, rarely rocking the boat, while at the same time slowly coming out of his shell to become a silent leader. Think back and it’s a bit of a change for Jazz fans to have a featured big man who doesn’t make a lot of noise.

Over the last two years the Utah Jazz are 0-12 in games in which Derrick Favors doesn’t play, most recently losing a pair of tilts when Favors sat out with an ankle tweak. He returns, and lo and behold the Jazz win on the road on the second night of a back-to-back. He’s critical to Utah’s success, and only getting better. Even if you didn’t notice or forgot to.

"“We’ve got to figure out a way to win without him.”–Quin Snyder, via Jody Genessy, Deseret News"

A few years ago, when Derrick Favors was still a fresh-faced sophomore, shortly after being traded from the then-New Jersey Nets, I wrote a feature for the Jazz’s asking who exactly Derrick Favors was that was not well received by fans. Probably not Favors himself either.

Jazz fan was excited about a future that featured Favors. Some had gone overboard on potential projections, an approach that possibly needed a little reining in, so a crowd sourced fact-finding mission ensued. Who would Derrick Favors turn out to be? Was he even the best big man from his own draft, let alone a future powerhouse?

One example presented was Stromile Swift, and it was explored as a reasonable facsimile.

Not an unreasonable comparison to this point in their careers, five years in, in straight-up statistical numbers comparison.

The difference is, Swift, a perennial bench player, would have only one more season at this level then fade into obscurity having started only 97 games in 10,804 NBA minutes, while Favors has started 140 games and is only halfway to peaking with 7,598 NBA minutes played to this point.

The shiny, newer toys now occupy Favors’ former place of insta-glory. Meanwhile, he toils away as the only Jazz player you can pencil in numbers for on a nightly basis

Many projected Favors to average a 20/10 and win multiple Defensive Player of the Year awards if only given minutes. He may average 20 points and 10 rebounds for a couple of seasons, but that mark isn’t as automatic as many may assume. It takes a lot of work as the featured player on offense to get such lofty numbers nightly. And it means staying on the floor too. Snyder has been cautious with Favors’ minutes and fouls thus far.

It was easier to watch Favors come in and dominate for a few minutes at a time when he was coming off of Utah’s bench, especially on defense. He was so explosive in spurts that it wasn’t a stretch to see him being a dominant D force. But he was often in foul trouble, quickly, and has had to learn to pace himself for an entire season as a starter.

The shiny, newer toys now occupy Favors’ former place of insta-glory. Meanwhile, he toils away as the only Jazz player you can pencil in numbers for on a nightly basis.

"“He’s one of our top players. I think it’s hard to quantify, but clearly we’d like to have him. He’s such an important part of everything we do. He anchors your defense, gives us a post presence, pick-and-roll.” –Quin Snyder, via Jody Genessy"

Favors is averaging career, or near career statistics in several categories, including all important ones like assists and free throw percentage, two areas he’s worked hard to improve. He’s also working to extend his shooting range, pushing the limits of his ability to stretch out a defense a little at a time. While still a work in progress, Favors’ 42% field goals this season out to 16 feet is a respectable number for this point in his game.

Derrick Favors midrange field goals 2014 – NBA Stats

And there’s still plenty of room for Derrick Favors to grow, sporting a new four-year contract, one that’s already well worth it’s $12,000,000 a year price tag.

By the time it runs out in 2018 Favors will be peaking as an NBA player, and there’s a good chance we’ll look back at the current contract fondly, recalling what a steal Derrick Favors is.