As one of many Jazz fans who has gushed over Derrick Favors and his enormous potential, I feel obligated to write a well-reasoned justification for the reckless promotion of the Favors Hype Machine. Here is that justification: DERRICK FAVORS IS AN INCONTROVERTIBLE FORCE OF NATURE WHO HAS TRANSCENDED THE PREVIOUSLY ESTABLISHED BOUNDARIES FOR HUMAN ATHLETIC ACCOMPLISHMENT AND WHOSE MERE PRESENCE IN THE MIDDLE OF THE KEY STRIKES EARTH-TREMBLING TERROR INTO THE HEARTS OF NBA LEGENDS OF THE LIKES OF KOBE BEAN BRYANT. Now I realize that was neither well-reasoned nor a justification and that it was in fact nothing more than a worshipful declaration of my love for the Favors’ Hype Machine, but watch that YouTube clip in which he humiliates one of the top ten greatest basketball players of all time. I find no reason or logic or intellectual neatness in the way Derrick Favors defiantly sends back shots from NBA superstars. I only find powerful chaos.
Offseason Accomplishments: chosen to play on USA Select team; received a decent degree of buzz as a preseason pick for Most Improved Player in 2013; incited countless twitter blood feuds between bored NBA bloggers who felt like stirring the pot (not that I’m against this, because I did just write the previous paragraph).
Patronus: Komodo Dragon. THE LENGTH.
Stat to Watch: Field Goal Attempts. Obviously how many shots Favors takes is inextricably tied to how many minutes he spends on the floor, but I’m going to assume a gradual increase of Favors minutes over the course of this season. I should also note that I care less about the pure quantity of shots Favors takes and more about the types of shots he’s taking. Favors’ post game is limited, and I’m not totally certain that this is a bad thing. If Favors isn’t attempting 7-10 shots a game from pick and rolls and fast breaks, then the Jazz’s offense has bigger issues than Favors production. In other words, when the Jazz become a block to block, post-up and kick type of team, then Favors’ abilities have been neutralized. That’s Al Jefferson’s game, not Favors’. Favors has a passable baseline drop-step, and occasionally he surprises me with a fadeaway or a hook, but those are and should always be minor parts to his game.
Three Potential Outcomes for the Season
1. Favors for Most Improved Player! This isn’t likely without a drastic upswing in minutes. The secret about players who win Most Improved Player is that they are typically players whose situation improved far more than their game. Consider last year’s winner, Ryan Anderson. His per game averages from the season before he won (2010-11) and from the season he won (2011-12) are virtually identically: his field goal percentage went from 43% to 44% and his 3-point FG% remained exactly the same. The primary difference? Minutes. Anderson played ten more minutes a game last season than he did the season previous. He didn’t improve his game so much as he was given more opportunities to show it off. What that means for Favors’ MIP campaign is that in order to impress voters, he needs to be playing drastically more minutes. So far, this has not been the case–he is only playing an average of three minutes a game more this season than last, and it would be extremely difficult to get any kind of recognition playing under 28 minutes a game. Favors is currently at 24. For this to happen, either one of the Jazz’s bigs needs to be traded, or Ty has to rely more heavily on the Millsap-Favors-Jefferson line-up.
2. Last season again. Until the overload of post players is somehow resolved, Favors will not average more than 30 minutes a game, and until his minutes per game average goes up, his numbers will remain generally static. Still, having to use Favors as a sixth man and a crunchtime complement to Al Jefferson and Paul Millsap is a good problem to have.
3. DERRICK FAVORS HYPE MACHINE: A year from now, Derrick Favors is the best defensive post player in the league, a top 20 player, and the centerpiece of the Jazz’s 2013-2014 Finals contending roster. You think I’ve gone crazy, don’t you? Take it up with the dragon.