As the overall landscape of the Jazz franchise changed dramatically during the off-season, the team’s cornerstone continued to stay put. He’s always stood as the lone guaranteed long-term player on an organization that continues to change: even before his long-term extension signed in October 2013, Derrick Favors has always had the type of potential that exceeded any other player on the Jazz roster.
With Favors entering his fifth NBA season, Quin Snyder and the rest of the Jazz organization are expecting that potential to turn into reality. Despite being able to turn into an extremely solid starter after transitioning to that role during the prior season, some of that unfounded potential still remains in the air. The majority of that statement rests with his slow, plodding improvements as an offensive player.
Since his rookie season, Favors has always been known as one of the more athletic front-court players in the game. However, Favors seemingly struggled to be able to fully transfer those natural traits to the offensive end, until the prior season. While that increased role had something to do with his improvement, Favors seemed to be a lot more comfortable in both on and off-ball situations.
In off-ball scenarios, Favors was continuously able to utilize his long, athletic 6’10 to succeed. While a lot of that did have to do with his athleticism, Favors seemed to be a lot more aggressive with his off-ball approach which allowed him to easily able to work past the opposition as he worked his way from to the paint.
While in the paint, Favors continued to utilize his athletic frame towards an ample amount of success. The vast majority of that success dealt with that aforementioned aggression, as he continued to crash the rim, which lead to a lot of extremely impressive dunks. Besides those highlight reel slams, Favors was able to continue to triumph over the opposition through using various different up-fakes which allowed him an opening to make an easy basket.
Transitioning over to his work as a post-up player, a lot of that guaranteed success fades away. As previously mentioned, Favors is still looked at as a raw player that’s still trying to fully understand his offensive game. A lot of that understanding is with his continued progression as a post-up player. While he’s still trying progress in that facet of the game, Favors continues to showcase a certain comfort level which has helped with his improvements.
Even though it’s not consistently showcased, Favors does possess an ability to post-up and successfully nail a hook shot from both ends of the paint. As he moves into his second season as the team’s top front-court player, Favors will have to continue to make gradual improvements as a post-up player, especially if Enes Kanter becomes more of a perimeter weapon.
Speaking of his alignment next to Kanter, Favors will have to take care of that vast majority of the defensive load. While he’s shown flashes of being able to be a good rim protector, opponents were regularly to score around the rim against Derrick Favors. Via NBA.com’s SportsVu data, opponents shot 50.7% at the rim against Favors which is just a wee bit better than Utah’s team percentage (51.6%, which put them at 11th in the league).
If Favors isn’t able to improve from that end of the spectrum, than it may be right to permanently move him to power forward. While this move may have a negative impact on his work on the offensive end, moving Favors away from center would allow Rudy Gobert to transition into that role, which would help the team’s inside defense.
No matter how Quin Snyder implements Favors into the Jazz rotation, the 6’10 forward is going be a huge factor towards Utah’s continued rebuilding process. On both ends of the court, Favors will need to keep on progressing as a player. While it’s only a limited preseason glimpse, it appears that Favors has been able to implement a short 15-18 foot jumper into his offensive arsenal. The combination of that and his standout athleticism should make him into an excellent pick-and-roll partner for the young duo of Trey Burke and Dante Exum.
While his potential ability to help the young back-court duo could pay big dividends, the progression of Derrick Favors is going to be one of the biggest keys towards the team’s future. Will he be able to make those big strides? Let’s wait, enjoy and watch.