Overlooked and underappreciated, Derrick Favors might never get the respect he rightfully deserves. On another team, in another market, he almost certainly would get more hype. But Favors is more than just hype — he’s substance. Last season he averaged 16 points and eight rebounds per game, making him one of only nine players to do so. Let’s look at how Favors was able to put up such great numbers and why Jazz fans should be hopeful that those numbers should continue to increase this season.
Last season Favors ranked first among NBA players with 331 points scored off of cuts to the basket, with a 62.5 percent scoring frequency on those plays. Part of why Favors was able to be so successful on his cuts is plays like this.
Despite his size, Favors runs the floor extremely well and has the power to finish. While being paired with Enes Kanter to start the season, the Jazz did not have much chance to get out in transition because defensive stops were few and far between. With Rudy Gobert as Favors’ frontcourt mate, Utah’s defense has the capability of posting historic numbers and providing Favors with a chance to get out and run for some easy buckets.
Another key element of Favors’ offensive success is his tremendous footwork.
Here we see a few different possessions for the big man. Favors is able to maintain his balance, mostly due to his excellent footwork, while being tripped up by a defender. The second possession, Favors does a perfect drop-step pivot move and then uses the rim to protect the shot. Finally, Favors is able to overpower his defender before shooting a short fadeaway.
While Favors has a myriad of post moves, he is not a ball stopper. You won’t see him pound the ball into the floor six or seven times before he goes to work. In fact, last season almost 67 percent of Favors’ shots were taken without a single dribble. This is due in part to Favors’ cutting action, as well as his increased ability to shoot the mid-range shot. In 2013-2014, Favors shot 30.9 percent from mid-range. This past season that increased to 36.4 percent, making him a much more viable catch-and-shoot option around the perimeter1.
But Favors isn’t simply gifted on the offensive end — he is a major presence on defense. Aside from amassing 123 blocks and 60 steals last season, Favors forced opposing players to shoot 4.3 percent below their normal average. He was especially effective in deterring shooters within six feet of the basket, forcing them to shoot 11.1 percent worse than their season average. Opposing big men will have to pick their poison when it comes to both Gobert and Favors.
Whether he is dominating on defense or executing on offense, Derrick Favors is an All-Star caliber player yet to even reach his prime. Still just 24 years old, Favors has many years of development ahead of him before he reaches his full potential. And that should give Jazz fans hope, not only for this season, but for many seasons to come.