Salt City Hoops » Derrick Favors http://saltcityhoops.com The ESPN TrueHoop Utah Jazz Site Tue, 16 Sep 2014 23:12:43 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.0 The ESPN TrueHoop Utah Jazz Site Salt City Hoops no The ESPN TrueHoop Utah Jazz Site Salt City Hoops » Derrick Favors http://saltcityhoops.com/wp-content/plugins/powerpress/rss_default.jpg http://saltcityhoops.com Reviewing My 2013-14 Utah Jazz Goals http://saltcityhoops.com/reviewing-my-2013-14-utah-jazz-goals/ http://saltcityhoops.com/reviewing-my-2013-14-utah-jazz-goals/#comments Thu, 10 Apr 2014 18:06:47 +0000 http://saltcityhoops.com/?p=11000 Author information
David J Smith
David J Smith
Besides writing for Salt City Hoops, David contributes to the Utah Jazz coverage for the Deseret News (instant analysis articles), WeAreUtahJazz.com, UtahJazz360.com and previously for Hoopsworld.com. He graduated from BYU and works for LDS Philanthropies. His wife, Elizabeth, is the most patient person in the world and they have four amazing children; Kadence, Tayah, Stockton (yes, really), and Cambria.
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Melissa Majchrzak/NBAE via Getty Images

It is accountability time. Back in August 2013, I laid out some predictions for the 2013-14 Utah Jazz season. Some were bold, while some were the exact opposite. With four games remaining in the waning season, it’s safe to take a look back and see how accurate or how off these prognostications were.

Gordon Hayward will lead the team in assists: This one was close. The honors go to Trey Burke, whose edged out his back court partner, 5.5 APG to 5.2 APG. If it helps any, Hayward currently has 379 dimes for the year, while Burke has 361.

Hayward will also lead the team in scoring: This fits into the less-than-bold category, but Hayward is indeed pacing the Jazz in scoring at a 16.0 PPG clip. That said, his efficiency is lacking, as the role of go-to scorer does not seem like an exact fit.

Alec Burks, whether he starts or comes off the bench, will finish second: The athletic combo guard is right behind Hayward with 14.0 PPG. Back in August, Enes Kanter and Derrick Favors may be think hard about this one, but I felt Burks ability to slash and get to the line, coupled with a gradually improving jumper, would position him to be a solid scoring threat.

Utah will be represented well at All-Star Weekend: Another safe bet, as Burke represented the franchise in the Rising Stars game, while winning the skills challenge. Jeremy Evans was denied the opportunity to regain his slam dunk crown.

Trey Burke will be the second Jazz player to win the Rookie of the Year award (Darrell Griffith being the first): This will be known in a few weeks. It’s clearly a three-man race between Burke, Victor Oladipo and Michael Carter-Williams. Chances are it will go to MCW, but it will be close.

The Jazz will honor Jerry Sloan this year: Check. And the Jazz did an absolutely masterful job in honoring the one and only Coach Sloan. It was certainly a highlight of this season as it allowed the fans to look back to some glory days with fondness.

The Jazz will be a top three shot-blocking team: Way off. At a collective 4.4 BPG, Utah is just 2oth in the league. I was banking on Favors improving on his gaudy 1.7 BPG in 23.2 MPG mark the previous season. Despite increased playing time, he dipped to 1.5 BPG. This prediction was also based on some solid playing time for Brandon Rush (who was solid his last full season) and Rudy Gobert (0.9 in limited action).

Favors will earn some All-Defensive team mentions, but won’t make it this season: This one could be in jeopardy. While he has had strong individual efforts, being the anchor of one of the NBA’s worst defenses won’t garner many votes, if any.

A lot of teams will be beating themselves over not drafting or signing Ian Clark: Probably a negative at this point. Clark is starting to get a few minutes here and there, but it’s highly unlikely his performance is causing opposing GMs to lose sleep. That said, he could be a very solid find. Clark has a good stroke and gives a lot of effort when on the court.

Dennis Lindsey will orchestrate at least one notable mid-season trade: Sure there were rumors (Richard Jefferson for Andrew Bynum; Marvin Williams for a first-round pick and the implausible Gordon Hayward to Boston rumors), but it was a quiet deadline. This year was less disappointing than the previous one, as the bevy of expiring contracts figured to be potential trade bait.

Despite the growing pains, this will be an exciting team for Jazz fans to rally around: This is a purely subjective prediction. It has absolutely been a season of struggle, ups and downs, highlights and low-lights (great piece the other day by Clint Johnson about this sordid season). There have been some positives, such as Burke’s recent game-winning 3-pointer. For me, it has been exciting, as we caught glimpses of the future.

And lastly, here were my quick hits.

  • To help with the whole Burke and Burks thing, Craig Bolerjack and Matt Harpring will be electrically shocked every time they use the wrong name: Clearly did not happen. Imagine the fun if the Jazz draft Aaron Gordon and Tyler Ennis…Burke and Burks, Enes and Ennis, Gordon and Gordon.
  • Favors will average a double-double. Kanter will not. But watch out the following year, world: Favors leads the team with 8.7 RPG, but many were predicting a few more boards per outing. Kanter has turned it on of late and is averaging that double-double the past six weeks.
  • Gobert will win the rookie dance-off, performing the Snake. The video will go viral that night: Oh, Rudy
  • Biedrins will show he can still be a serviceable back-up big man: I will now cower in the corner, full of shame and embarrassment. Biedrins did earn $3.0M per point scored, so there is that.
  • Hayward will enlighten us with another full slate of Fresh Market ads that will dazzle and entertain. There will be immense rejoicing in the land: Yes, indeed.
  • Jeremy Evans will prove to be more than a highlight dunker. With an improved jump shot, Evans will show he belongs in the league: This has been one of the key developments of the season. At 5.9 PPG and 4.6 RPG, Evans definitely showed that he is a very viable rotation player. He started the year on a torrid pace, tailed off in the middle, but is coming back around. Utah has him locked in for another season at a mere $1.7M–a pittance compared to his productivity and his electric dunks.
  • Tyrone Corbin will finish the season as the head coach: And he will. But we will know soon if he is the head coach moving forward, as Laura Thompson highlighted.
  • Gobert’s wingspan and/or standing reach will be mentioned 7,653 times, most of them by the Jazz broadcasters: We got one right!
  • For the third straight season, Utah fanatics will watch the Golden State situation with eagerness. An injury will curtail the Warriors’ season a bit, but not enough to bring the Jazz a second lottery pick. Late teens would be my guess: This is one that many wish was not accurate. While the Warriors flirted with that elusive ninth place spot in the Western Conference, they seem secure in their postseason positioning and the Jazz will mostly likely be left with the #23 pick. Sadness.
  • Hayward, Favors, Kanter, and Burks will all receive Most Improved Player votes, but none will win it: Burks will probably get the most attention out of this quartet.
  • Kevin O’Connor will sign an extension, but will continue to take a gradually smaller role: He still has an influence on the team, but that seems to be dissipating as Lindsey is clearly at the helm.
  • We will see a sharp increase in Jazz fan Twitter etiquetteTwitter definitely can enhance one’s fan experience and it has for me. That said, there is still a long ways to go here. One day, all of us should just Kumbaya-it out.

Not too great, but not too shabby. How did other Jazz fans fare with their personal crystal balling?Pretty soon it will be time to make some more predictions for what will inevitably be a very eventful offseason for the Utah Jazz.

Author information

David J Smith
David J Smith
Besides writing for Salt City Hoops, David contributes to the Utah Jazz coverage for the Deseret News (instant analysis articles), WeAreUtahJazz.com, UtahJazz360.com and previously for Hoopsworld.com. He graduated from BYU and works for LDS Philanthropies. His wife, Elizabeth, is the most patient person in the world and they have four amazing children; Kadence, Tayah, Stockton (yes, really), and Cambria.
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The Utah Jazz and Deadline Deals: 2004-2014 http://saltcityhoops.com/the-utah-jazz-and-deadline-deals-2004-2014/ http://saltcityhoops.com/the-utah-jazz-and-deadline-deals-2004-2014/#comments Wed, 12 Feb 2014 22:33:06 +0000 http://saltcityhoops.com/?p=10329 Author information
David J Smith
David J Smith
Besides writing for Salt City Hoops, David contributes to the Utah Jazz coverage for the Deseret News (instant analysis articles), WeAreUtahJazz.com, UtahJazz360.com and previously for Hoopsworld.com. He graduated from BYU and works for LDS Philanthropies. His wife, Elizabeth, is the most patient person in the world and they have four amazing children; Kadence, Tayah, Stockton (yes, really), and Cambria.
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Bill Kostroun/AP

Bill Kostroun/AP

Thursday, February 20th is a date NBA fans have clearly marked on their calendars: the NBA trade deadline. As is the case this time each year, the basketball world circles with rumors of teams discussing their players, their picks or assets and the financial situations. Teams wanting to make the Playoffs may consider deals that help them short-term. Others who know the postseason is no longer a possibility may opt to adopt a long-term approach. It’s an exciting time of the year and one that can affect a team going forward. (side note: deadline day is a perfect reason why Twitter was created. Constant refresh that entire day. Sheer genius.)

Last year, due to the amazing number of expiring contracts, the Utah Jazz were among the most mentioned teams in floating rumors. Then, the deadline came and went without a single move, which was disappointing to some fans and understandable to others. Whether or not the franchise will be involved in any trades this go-around, the deadline is bound to be another fun roller coaster of intrigue.

The Jazz are typically not regulars when it comes to brokering deadline deals, with only four such moves in the last 10 years. When they have, they have been moves that affected the franchise both on and off the court. Let’s take a stroll down memory lane, as we review the deadline deals from the past decade:

February 19, 2004: Utah Jazz trade forwards Keon Clark and Ben Handlogten to the Phoenix Suns for forward Tom Gugliotta, two first-round picks, a 2005 second-round pick and cash.

This trade came in that illustrious post-Stockton and Malone season where Jerry Sloan orchestrated a marvelous season from a team some predicted to be the worst team in NBA history. It was a roster full of overachievers, including the hard-working Handlogten (Clark was a disappointment and his life has become tragic). The Jazz also possessed a lot of financial flexibility and they used it in a deal to acquire some long-term assets. Gugliotta was at the end of a nice career and was making $11.7 million–money the Suns wanted to shed. The Jazz absorbed his deal and picked up some picks along the way. His modest contributions on the court were icing on the cake.

The Jazz used one of the picks for Kirk Snyder–an unmitigated disaster. But five years later, the other pick–acquired by Phoenix through the ineptitude of the New York Knicks–eventually became today’s leading scorer, Gordon Hayward. Hayward’s future is very bright and he could be a cornerstone for many years to come. All in all, a very good trade (something the Jazz hope they replicated with last summer’s move with the Golden State Warriors).

February 19, 2004: Utah Jazz trade guard DeShawn Stevenson and a second-round pick to the Orlando Magic for guard Gordan Giricek 

Stevenson had an up-and-down tenure with the Jazz. Drafted straight out of high school, he encountered some off-court troubles that marred his early career. The athletic guard played a reserve role his first three seasons and was eventually given the chance to start. Stevenson was solid, but was definitely not spectacular: 11.4 PPG, 3.7 RPG and 2.0 APG as a starter (He did have this redeeming interaction with Ricky Davis). His perimeter shooting was poor, which caused spacing issues (coincidentally, as his career waned, his outside shooting was his main staple). Thus the move for Giricek, which was consummated on the same day as the Gugliotta transaction.

Giricek is best known for his rough relationship with Sloan. He seemed to have frequent stays in Jerry’s doghouse. But for four seasons, he was a decent perimeter threat. His first season, he was quite good (13.5 PPG and 36% 3s)–enough for Larry H. Miller to re-sign him to a four-year, $16 million deal. He never reached those marks again, but had moments. Eventually he was traded in a December deal for sharpshooter and fan favorite Kyle Korver.

February 18, 2010: Utah Jazz trade guard Ronnie Brewer to the Memphis Grizzlies for a 2011 first-round draft pick.

This was a move that disappointed a lot of Jazz fans, as well as a franchise point guard in Deron Williams. Brewer had become a fan favorite thanks to his tireless energy, his defensive effort and his athletic dunks. Few players in Jazz history have functioned better without the ball. While his shooting was a weakness, Brewer shot a high percentage and looked to be a mainstay in the back court. Well, the Jazz were in the midst of some financial bedlam, thanks to several large contracts ($59 million combined for Andrei Kirilenko, Carlos Boozer, Mehmet Okur, Deron Williams and Paul Millsap). With C.J. Miles showing some modest improvement and undrafted free agent Wesley Matthews becoming a revelation for Utah, Brewer was shipped out for a draft pick which was used that offseason to bring in Al Jefferson.

Brewer was reportedly on the team plane to fly out for a road trip when word came out. He bid his farewells to his coaches and teammates and went to Memphis. He unfortunately was hurt his first game with the Grizzlies and never played for them after that.

February 23, 2011: Utah Jazz trade guard Deron Williams to the New Jersey Nets for big man Derrick Favors, guard Devin Harris and two first-round draft picks. 

This whole experience still stings for some of the Utah Jazz populace. Much has been said about it and it will always be a major date in franchise history. A few weeks earlier was the infamous Jazz/Bulls game that ended up being Sloan’s final at the helm. The discord between Sloan and Williams was evident and whatever transpired that fateful evening proved to be the final straw for the venerable coach. Tyrone Corbin was installed and Utah tried to get back into a groove, but things were still not right.

Then came the shocking news that D-Will had been shipped across the country to the Nets, in exchange for a package of promising players and valuable draft picks. The Nets had been in talks with the Denver Nuggets for the then-pouting star Carmelo Anthony. After their offer was usurped by the New York Knicks, the Jazz and Nets moved quickly to make this happen. Williams had been the heart and soul for Utah. His talent was remarkable, while his attitude was sometimes sour.

Who won the trade? It’s hard to make any firm declarations yet, but indicators may favor the Jazz. Williams has battled constant injuries throughout his time in a Nets uniform. While it appears Brooklyn will be playoff bound after a slow, slow start, Williams still does not look right (with a max contract in tow, too).

Utah went on to pick up two #3 picks in Favors and Enes Kanter (Jazz moved up in the draft lottery that May) and their potential is evident. Favors looks to be the defensive anchor going forward, while the Jazz are still seeing what they have in Kanter. Harris was serviceable before being traded for Marvin Williams, who is having a nice season for Utah. The final draft pick was part of the package that enabled Dennis Lindsey to move up for Trey Burke. When it is all said and done, the Jazz sent Deron Williams for Favors, Kanter, Williams and part of Burke. Not a bad haul.

With the Jazz add a fifth trade to this list next week? This is the first deadline with Dennis Lindsey fully in charge, so who knows what will transpire. If Draft night was an precursor, he may be very active next week.

Only time will tell.

Author information

David J Smith
David J Smith
Besides writing for Salt City Hoops, David contributes to the Utah Jazz coverage for the Deseret News (instant analysis articles), WeAreUtahJazz.com, UtahJazz360.com and previously for Hoopsworld.com. He graduated from BYU and works for LDS Philanthropies. His wife, Elizabeth, is the most patient person in the world and they have four amazing children; Kadence, Tayah, Stockton (yes, really), and Cambria.
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Is Derrick Favors Starved for Shots? http://saltcityhoops.com/is-derrick-favors-starved-for-shots/ http://saltcityhoops.com/is-derrick-favors-starved-for-shots/#comments Fri, 03 Jan 2014 17:07:42 +0000 http://saltcityhoops.com/?p=9283 Author information
Clint Johnson
Clint Johnson
Clint Johnson is a professional author, writing educator, and editor. In addition to his writing center work at Salt Lake Community College, he designed, coordinates, and teaches in an experimental author residency program for a West Valley City public charter school. A frequent presenter at both writing and educational conferences, he writes about the Jazz as a break from his other writing work.
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(Photo by Brock Williams-Smith/NBAE via Getty Images)

(Photo by Brock Williams-Smith/NBAE via Getty Images)

Reward the big.

It’s a frequent mantra on the hardwood.  If a front court player sprints up the floor, give him the fast break dunk.  If a center is anchoring a defense and cleaning the glass, throw him a bone occasionally by giving him a shot in the post.  In a game where the ball stays predominantly in the hands of the point guard and wings out at the perimeter, front court players’ offensive involvement is dependent on smaller teammates.  Without consistent and purposeful passing into the post, bigs can easily become lost offensively.  When that happens, it can filter into other aspects of their game.

This is happening to Derrick Favors this season.  And where Trey Burke’s insertion into the starting lineup has improved so many facets of the team’s play (.500 record with him, .077 before) , this is one area where it has done damage.

Before Burke entered the starting lineup, Favors averaged 10.2 rebounds a game, 7.3 on the defensive glass.  Since Burke has captained the Jazz, Favors’ rebounding has dropped to 8.1 per game, only 5.3 on the defensive glass.  (Note that this dip largely corresponds to Enes Kanter being replaced as a starter by Marvin Williams, a player who offers less competition for rebounds.  Common sense suggests Favors’ rebounding would go up when paired with a stretch four, not down.)  For a team second to last in the league in defensive rebounding, and with the 7th worst rebounding differential (-2.3), this is a big deal.

Why is it happening?  Because when led by their point guard of the future, the Jazz aren’t rewarding the big.

Recently, I analyzed in detail Favors’ per minute production for each quarter through the first 22 games of the season.  (Find my observations and recommendations on per quarter performance here.)  In the process I observed an undeniable correlation between Favors’ offensive involvement and his defensive rebounding. When one goes down, so does the other.

When Favors gets four or more shots in a quarter (or the equivalent from the free throw line), he grabs a defensive rebound in each four minutes of play.  That would be eight defensive rebounds a game in his present 31.7 minutes a contest.  When he gets three shots or fewer, however, that rate decreases by 36%.  When Favors is less involved on the offensive end, it substantially decreases his activity on the defensive glass, a crucial area for this Jazz team.

Even worse, however, is how lack of involvement affects how often he fouls.  When Favors takes three or more shots in a quarter, his fouls per minute stay at a steady rate, whether it be three shots or seven.  When those shots drop to two, however, his fouls per minute skyrocket by 46%.

Part of this data is certainly the result of fouls rather than the cause: Favors fouls rapidly in a quarter and is put on the bench or forced to be passive, decreasing his involvement on the offensive end.  This is particularly true in the second and third quarters, the majority of the quarters in which Favors took two or fewer shots.

But this fails to account for the entirety of the increase in foul rate.  Not only are numerous first and fourth quarters included in the data set, but the average minutes played in these quarters is 6:49, nearly seven minutes.  That is very close to the 7:20 average minutes played in the quarters where Favors shot three times in the quarter, in which his foul rate did not significantly increase.

The implication is fairly obvious: when Derrick Favors gets lost on the offensive end, he starts forcing the issue, gets fouls, and by doing so takes himself out of the game.

This issue is a growing concern because it is a problem exacerbated by Trey Burke’s play at point guard.  Many would argue the opposite, that Burke has been the best thing to ever happen to Derrick Favors short of a 49 million dollar contract.  This is true as far as it extends to efficiency: since Burke cracked the starting lineup, Favors has shot 55% from the field compared to 48% previously.  But the opposite is true of opportunity.  Before Burke, Favors shot the ball 10.9 times a game; since, that has dropped to 9.9.

The last three games support these conclusions.  In the win against the Lakers, Favors shot the ball 15 times. grabbed 14 rebounds (ten defensive), and only fouled twice.  In the two games since against the Clippers and Bobcats, however, he’s averaged only 7.5 FGA.  It may be no coincidence that number comes with 6.5 rebounds (only 3.5 defensive) and 4.5 fouls per game.  Cut his attempts from the field in half, his rebounds follow and his fouls double.  Taken as an isolated small sample, it would certainly be coincidence.  Taken in light of a 22 game trend to start the season, perhaps not.

Favors has arguably been the team’s best player this season, and inarguably the most consistent major contributor.  If his defensive rebounding remains depressed and his foul rate accelerated because this young, starless team can’t find a way to share the basketball better, it may well harm both the team’s ability to compete and Favors’ individual development.

The data suggests the team should aim to get Derrick Favors one shot (or the equivalent from the free throw line) every two and a half minutes of play.  Not only would this likely help the offense (he does have a TS% of .588 with Burke starting, after all), but it may well fuel his energy on the defensive glass while helping him maintain focus to restrain himself from getting the one or two fouls that come from trying to make something happen but instead get him on the bench.  A glass eating Derrick Favors who doesn’t foul would be a great advantage for a team that needs ever competitive advantage it can get this season.

Derrick Favors needs to shoot more.  That he deserves the opportunity warrants a post all its own.  (Don’t worry, it’s coming.)

Author information

Clint Johnson
Clint Johnson
Clint Johnson is a professional author, writing educator, and editor. In addition to his writing center work at Salt Lake Community College, he designed, coordinates, and teaches in an experimental author residency program for a West Valley City public charter school. A frequent presenter at both writing and educational conferences, he writes about the Jazz as a break from his other writing work.
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Looking Forward to the Utah Jazz’s 2014 http://saltcityhoops.com/looking-forward-to-the-utah-jazzs-2014/ http://saltcityhoops.com/looking-forward-to-the-utah-jazzs-2014/#comments Thu, 02 Jan 2014 18:52:15 +0000 http://saltcityhoops.com/?p=9372 Author information
David J Smith
David J Smith
Besides writing for Salt City Hoops, David contributes to the Utah Jazz coverage for the Deseret News (instant analysis articles), WeAreUtahJazz.com, UtahJazz360.com and previously for Hoopsworld.com. He graduated from BYU and works for LDS Philanthropies. His wife, Elizabeth, is the most patient person in the world and they have four amazing children; Kadence, Tayah, Stockton (yes, really), and Cambria.
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Photo by Melissa Majchrzak/NBAE via Getty Images

Photo by Melissa Majchrzak/NBAE via Getty Images

Happy New Years to one and all. 2014 is upon us and like all dutiful Jazz fans, I have pondered what could transpire this year for the team. It could be one of the biggest years in franchise history, with many things to look forward to. Here’s a little primer of things on my radar and most likely yours.

PLAYER DEVELOPMENT

Player development is naturally the major focus of the 2013-2014 Utah Jazz campaign. So far, the results have been mostly positive. Derrick Favors continues to be solid defensively, but has been much better offensively. He is finishing inside and is being more decisive, aggressive and confident in his moves. Alec Burks has been a bright spot for the Jazz. Almost everything about his game has improved. From his decision-making to his outside shot, Burks looks like he’s taken the biggest leap of all of Utah’s returning players. Gordon Hayward’s shooting is still south of 40%, which is a major concern. The rest of his game, particularly his play-making and rebounding, has been great. Jeremy Evans has shown his abilities to contribute in a more regular role.

Enes Kanter has been the biggest concern. Some facets of his game have either stalled or digressed. There are many potential reasons: his move to a much more prominent role; the move to the bench; the fact that he spent most of the off-season recovering from his shoulder injury. His TS% has dropped from 58.8 percent last season to 49.5 percent this year and his eFG% is down from 54.5 percent to 46.2. His declining rebounding has been very noticeable. Kanter’s TRB% has gone from a stellar 18.3 mark his rookie year to 16.5 to 13.1 this year. The big Turk is only averaging 8.3 rebounds/36 minutes. While this is all disconcerting, there is still a lot of season to play and he’s shown some nice signs recently. I, for one, am a big Kanter believer and think he will be just fine. His offensive moves are great for a young big and he has displayed some nice perimeter marksmanship.

JANUARY 10TH

This is the day that contracts become guaranteed for the rest of the season. The Jazz have three players–Mike Harris, Diante Garrett and Ian Clark–who are probably working hard, while keeping their eyes on that date. Clark has a $200,000 guarantee, but is not fully guaranteed. It will be interesting to see what Utah does with this trio. There is a possibility they could retain all three, but it also could depend on who else is already available or who might been cut loose by other teams. The Jazz may want to have some flexibility with roster spots for future moves. And last season, Lindsey used a vacant roster spot to “try out” players like Travis Leslie and Jerel McNeal.

JERRY SLOAN CEREMONY

January 31st is circled on many Jazz fans’ calendars. It will be a terrific opportunity to pay homage to one of the all-time greats, Jerry Sloan. There will be press conferences, takes from national talking heads and the whole gamut. It will be interesting to hear Sloan’s words that day, as well as to see his emotions. Likewise, many Utah legends will naturally be in town for the festivities. It will be a day to remember.

TRADE DEADLINE

Dennis Lindsey has already shown that he is proactive and willing to orchestrate bold moves: one need not look further than Draft Night and the trade that brought Trey Burke to town. The Jazz possess a number of assets. The Jazz will naturally field phone calls for all the aforementioned young guys. They have $33 million in expiring contracts in veterans Richard Jefferson ($11M), Andris Biedrins ($9M), Marvin Williams ($7.5M), Brandon Rush ($4M) and John Lucas III ($1.6M, with a team option for 2014-15). Yes, last year the Jazz had a ton of expiring deals and did not make any moves, but I get the feeling that Lindsey won’t be scared from using these assets if something makes sense both for the team and the players involved. They also have that bevy of draft picks including their own picks, Golden State’s first round picks in 2014 and 2017, as well as extra second-rounders in 2016, 2017 and 2018. It will be a busy six weeks for Lindsey, Kevin O’Connor and company.

Around the NBA, this could be active trade deadline. Guys like Rudy Gay, Grevis Vasquez, Patrick Patterson and Derrick Williams have already been moved. Many prominent names have been circulating in rumors (granted, though, they are just rumors): Pau Gasol, Andrew Bynum, Rajon Rondo, Thaddeus Young, Evan Turner, Omer Asik, Spencer Hawes, Arron Afflalo, Paul Pierce, Ben Gordon, Michael Kidd-Gilcrest, Luol Deng, Kenneth Faried, Greg Monroe, Danny Granger, Jameer Nelson, Emeka Okafor, Jimmer Fredette, Demar Derozan, Kyle Lowry, Iman Shumpert, and so forth.

HONORS

The Jazz will most likely have little representation during All-Star Weekend. Trey Burke will be a lock for the Rising Stars Challenge and while he’s there, could be asked to participate in the Skills Challenge. Jeremy Evans could be asked to compete once again in the Slam Dunk Contest. That might be it.

The big question will be Burke’s potential to come away with the Rookie of the Year award.

JAZZ’S RECORD AND THE NBA DRAFT

Much has been said about the conflicted emotions of Jazz fans, thanks to the desire to see the team win as well as the upcoming Draft. Currently Utah would be in line for picks #2 and #22 in the 2014 Draft, but a lot will shift between now and then. Fueled by Burke’s great play, the Jazz have been seeing lots of solid wins–much to the chagrin of fans riding the Andrew Wiggins/Jabari Parker/Joel Embiid train.This will perhaps be the biggest story of 2014. My advice: enjoy the season, root for our team and whatever happens will happen. Whatever the case may be, the Jazz will come away with two great players in the Draft and if there is a guy that Lindsey has his eyes on, the team has assets to maneuver as needed. The Jazz could very come away with a player who could help shape the future of the franchise and help swing things in a major upward direction.

FREE AGENCY

The first item of business for the Jazz’s free agency efforts will center around Gordon Hayward. While Favors and the Jazz came to an extension. Hayward’s camp and Utah could not do so in October. Both have publicly stated their desires for an agreement come July and that will most likely happen– it’s the price tag that will need to be determined. Marvin Williams will be another to watch. If he does not get moved, which could very well be the case, Utah could look to keep him going forward. Next, there will be the potential for extensions for Burks and Kanter. The Jazz could lock them in, but there will not be pressure to do so with the extra year to watch and evaluate.

The Jazz will have ample cap space and could be players in free agency, but that will be tied to what happens between now and July 1st.

One other major free agent is head coach Tyrone Corbin. His contract expires at the end of the season, so all eyes will be focused on what happens on this front.

2013-2014 SEASON

No need to explain. Every Jazz season is exciting. The team could be dramatically different between now and then, but the future is very bright.

Author information

David J Smith
David J Smith
Besides writing for Salt City Hoops, David contributes to the Utah Jazz coverage for the Deseret News (instant analysis articles), WeAreUtahJazz.com, UtahJazz360.com and previously for Hoopsworld.com. He graduated from BYU and works for LDS Philanthropies. His wife, Elizabeth, is the most patient person in the world and they have four amazing children; Kadence, Tayah, Stockton (yes, really), and Cambria.
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First Trimester Awards, Utah Jazz Style http://saltcityhoops.com/first-trimester-awards-utah-jazz-style/ http://saltcityhoops.com/first-trimester-awards-utah-jazz-style/#comments Thu, 19 Dec 2013 17:25:40 +0000 http://saltcityhoops.com/?p=9211 Author information
David J Smith
David J Smith
Besides writing for Salt City Hoops, David contributes to the Utah Jazz coverage for the Deseret News (instant analysis articles), WeAreUtahJazz.com, UtahJazz360.com and previously for Hoopsworld.com. He graduated from BYU and works for LDS Philanthropies. His wife, Elizabeth, is the most patient person in the world and they have four amazing children; Kadence, Tayah, Stockton (yes, really), and Cambria.
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Jeremy Evans' dunk face is worthy of recognition. But is his game worthy of one of the Jazz's first Trimester Awards? Photo by Layne Murdoch Jr./NBAE via Getty Image

Jeremy Evans’ dunk face is worthy of recognition. But is his game worthy of one of the Jazz’s first Trimester Awards? Photo by Layne Murdoch Jr./NBAE via Getty Image

Each season, ESPN.com’s Marc Stein comes out with his trimester awards–recognizing the NBA’s high achievers–always a fun read. Make sure to give it a perusal when it comes out. Because this is Salt City Hoops, why not have some trimester awards for the Utah Jazz? And like Stein, this is based on the thoughts and votes of this “committee of one.”

Most Improved Player: Given the fact that every player is filling a different role than they did last season, there were numerous candidates for this honor. Gordon Hayward and Derrick Favors are clearly the players head coach Tyrone Corbin is relying on the most and both have taken nice strides in their progression (with many more strides yet to come). Enes Kanter had a stellar start to the season before his injury curtailed things a bit. He’s now trying to regain that same confidence.

Jeremy Evans was considered here, but this award goes to Alec Burks. He simply has been tremendous (Laura Thompson reflected on his play recently). While he had a few weeks where he struggled, he has simply taken his game to an entirely new level. In December, the athletic guard is cutting and slashing his way to 16.8 PPG (50.4% FGs, 47.6% 3s, 79.4% FTs) along with 3.2 RPG and 2.9 APG. Take out his two subpar games last week versus San Antonio and Denver (cherrypicking stats is fun!), and Burks climbs to 19.3 PPG (56.8% FGs, 62.5% 3s), 3.4 APG and 3.4 RPG. Taking a closer look, he has increased his points/36 minutes from 14.3 last season to 17.1 this year. His AST% has improved from 13.0 to 17.0, while his TOV% has gone from 14.3 to 12.1. Corbin made a nice move playing him predominantly at the shooting guard position, which plays to his strengths as a scorer, while still enabling him ample opportunities to create for his teammate.

Most importantly, Burks is making the correct basketball play the majority of the time. He knows when he needs to facilitate and he knows when he needs to take things into his own hands. All in all, Burks has been one of the brightest aspects of Utah’s season thus far.

Sixth Man: While Burks could easily garner this honor, too, the nod goes to Jeremy Evans. He has more than answered my question last month about his becoming a rotational player. Evans is producing 7.8 PPG and 6.3 RPG off the pine, while playing his trademark active defense. He leads the team with an 18.8 PER mark. He’s never rebounded the ball better (16.9 TRB%), particularly on the defensive boards (20.7 DRB%), which has been a thorn in Utah’s side this year. His remarkable shooting upon returning to the line-up has dropped considerably, to a “paltry” 52.7%. Evans has shown a much improved mid-range jump shot, which opens up his game tremendously (3-point range is the next step). Like usual, he’s been injected energy and excitement in the game, but not just in short spurts. Evans is making an impact on the court.

Defensive Player: There’s no way to sugar coat things: the Jazz’s defense has been dismal. The team is 30th in DRTG (110.7) and are low in the Defense Four Factors: 3rd in TOV% (13.3), 26th in eFG% (.517), 29th in DRB% (72.1) and 28th in FT/FGA (.242). If you’re not into advanced statistics, simply put, Utah is having major struggles. As a result, this award may not as illustrious as it normally would be.

That said, Derrick Favors signed his extension in October with the hopes of his becoming the defensive anchor and he is starting to show that he can fulfill that role. Favors is too learning his new role as the main presence in the middle and is showing improvement as the weeks pass. His Basketball Reference DRTG is the best amongst regulars at 106, with a DWS of 0.7. While his blocked shots are down (1.4 BPG), he is on track toward registering 100 steals and 100 blocks this season.

Comeback Player: Ah, yes, one of the ambiguous awards of yesteryear. It often went to players maligned by injury or severe off-court issues. No one has earned this more than Marvin Williams, and not for either of those reasons. When Utah obtain Williams, hopes were high. He was coming off a nice season in Atlanta where his perimeter shooting was key to their success. While he may never live up to the lofty billing associated with being the #2 pick in a draft, he was shaping up to be a solid 30+ MPG contributor. Last season was a let-down for Williams, he had career-lows in points, minutes, field goal percentage and rebounds. He was relegated to being a jump shooter, while ignoring his abilities to slash or post-up.

Skip to this season. While it took him some time to work back into game shape, he has been perhaps the most consistent player for the Jazz this year. Placed in the stretch four role, he has helped improve things for the starting lineup. He is shooting 40.3% from long distance, which would be a career-high. But beyond that, he is using his underrated repertoire of moves to score inside the arc. Williams is having career years in 2P% (52.1%), TS% (57.1%) and eFG% (56.2%). He’s bumped up his usage rate, cut down his TOV% and is passing (9.5 AST%) and stealing (2.1 STL%) well. He has been the consummate veteran leader. In the Jazz wins, Williams has made some huge plays. It is wonderful to see him playing this well.

Rookie of the Trimester: None other than Trey Burke, who has come on the scene and demanded respect right away. The Jazz are just a different squad with him at the helm. His leadership on the floor is evident and his abilities to get the ball to his teammates where they want and need it is getting better each game. Like others, his shot selection needs some work, but he has no fear when it comes to crunch time. He is rebounding the ball extremely well from the point guard position, a big plus for a team that lacks on the boards. He can get overpowered at times by opposing guards, but he is improving in his positional defense. If he continues his recent play, he will be right there with Michael Carter-Williams and Victor Oladipo for the league’s Rookie of the Year award at season’s end.

Most Valuable Player: Much has been said for his shooting woes and his occasional lackluster game. That said, Gordon Hayward is my choice for the Jazz’s MVP of the first 27 games. Cases could honestly be made for Favors and Burks, but Hayward’s all-around game has blossomed: 16.9 PPG, 5.3 RPG, 4.6 APG and 1.3 SPG. He is passing at an elite level (22.0 AST%) and has stepped up in major ways on the boards (career-highs with 14.7 DRB% and 8.4 TRB%). Hayward’s USG% is 24.5 and he is having some growing pains being the focal point of the offense. Burke’s addition has alleviated some of the burden, but he is still adjusting. His errant shooting has to improve (a mere 40.5% from the field and 26.3% on treys), with better shot selection being a necessity. Moreover, his consistency needs to be…well, more consistent. All in all, though, Hayward has showed his abilities to be a leader for Utah, both for the now and the future.

Feel free to share your thoughts on who you think might be deserving of each of these trimester awards.

Author information

David J Smith
David J Smith
Besides writing for Salt City Hoops, David contributes to the Utah Jazz coverage for the Deseret News (instant analysis articles), WeAreUtahJazz.com, UtahJazz360.com and previously for Hoopsworld.com. He graduated from BYU and works for LDS Philanthropies. His wife, Elizabeth, is the most patient person in the world and they have four amazing children; Kadence, Tayah, Stockton (yes, really), and Cambria.
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Two Bigs, Ten Games, Opposite Trajectories http://saltcityhoops.com/two-bigs-ten-games-opposite-trajectories/ http://saltcityhoops.com/two-bigs-ten-games-opposite-trajectories/#comments Sat, 30 Nov 2013 21:11:03 +0000 http://saltcityhoops.com/?p=8948 Author information
Clint Johnson
Clint Johnson
Clint Johnson is a professional author, writing educator, and editor. In addition to his writing center work at Salt Lake Community College, he designed, coordinates, and teaches in an experimental author residency program for a West Valley City public charter school. A frequent presenter at both writing and educational conferences, he writes about the Jazz as a break from his other writing work.
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(Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

In the ten games before his injury, Enes Kanter’s game appeared overmatched by Derrick Favors’. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

Derrick Favors and Enes Kanter are the core duo to the Jazz’s grand design. One an athletic marvel and defensive game changer; the other an irresistible force with the polished offense of a cowhide prodigy — an anchor in the post for each side of the floor. It just makes so much sense.

In theory.

But in practice, at least recently, the formula has changed somewhat. In the ten games prior to Enes Kanter’s right ankle injury (in which Favors and Kanter both started all but one game), Favors was not only the better defender of the young bigs but the superior offensive player as well. That wasn’t part of the plan, but it looks like the plan might need to change.

Kanter started off the season dominating offensively. I don’t think that’s too strong a term for a twenty-one year old center averaging 18.6 points per game on 55% shooting from the field and 88% from the line. Five games into the season, the Turk looked like a favorite for the Most Improved Player Award — and primary post scorer for the Jazz this season.

Since that time, Derrick Favors has outplayed Kanter in practically all aspects of the game. Some may be surprised, even angry, at Coach Corbin’s decision to move Kanter to the bench. If so, they probably haven’t looked at the numbers in the last ten games both Favors and Kanter shared the court.

Enes Kanter, once seen as a superhuman rebounding machine, was outrebounded by Favors in all ten games. Worse, he was nearly doubled up in the category, 5.9 rebounds for Kanter to 10.1 for Favors. For a player as strong as Kanter, who grabbed 18.3% of available boards as a rookie, 5.9 rebounds a game while playing 30.4 minutes simply isn’t good enough. Not close.

But what is more startling, in regard to both players, are their offensive numbers during this stretch. Favors, who has so often been characterized as offensively deficient, averaged 14.1 points on 50% from the field. In the same span, Kanter produced 11.4 points on 47% shooting. Not only do the averages recommend Favors, but so too does consistency. Of those ten games, Favors outscored his frontcourt colleague in seven.

In this ten-game span, Favors did play several more minutes per game, but their shots attempts were very similar (11.2 FGA/G for Favors to 10.5 FGA/G for Kanter). Favors produced 1.26 points per shot to Kanter’s 1.09 and earned an offensive rating of 101 points produced per 100 possessions to Kanter’s 92. Recently, the defender has been the clearly superior offensive option.

Which starts to mean a lot more when the rest of the game is taken into account. As expected, Favors was the far better defensive player in this stretch, adding 1.7 steals and 1.5 blocks to his just over ten rebounds a game. His 105 DRtg isn’t great by his standards, but it’s heads and tails above the 113 Kanter earned over the same stretch. And for good measure, throw in Favors’ 40% higher assists percentage over the span.

Combine both sides of the floor (points produced and allowed) in the ten games preceding Kanter’s injury, and Favors gave the Jazz a huge +17 point advantage per 100 possessions over Enes Kanter.

It’s far too early to take a ten-game trend and project the future of twenty-two and twenty-one year old players. All Kanter’s offensive potential and polish remain intact, as does his elite strength. It’s natural that such a young player should struggle at times when asked to play double the minutes he played per night the previous season, as Kanter has. He will gather himself and, with more time to adjust to his role and improve his stamina, I expect both his offensive efficiency and rebounding to start trending upward once more.

But that doesn’t mean Favors steady progress should be ignored. His 16.5 PER (the only major Jazz contributor to boast a figure above the league average 15) names him the Jazz’s best player through the first 20% of the season. Yet his numbers of 13 points, 9.9 rebounds, 1.5 assists, 1.5 steals, and 1.4 blocks are really just okay, given his ability. 48% from the field? Yeah, okay. 61% from the free throw line? Not okay in the least, as he has the form of a 70% shooter already.

Derrick Favors has been the Jazz’s best overall player, and recently their best offensive post option, and he hasn’t really started playing well yet.

What does this mean? Hopefully, the coaching staff will game plan to get Favors the ball earlier and more often on offense, which they’ve yet to do. Including the Nov. 29th home loss against the Suns, Favors has taken fewer than ten shots in five consecutive games (eight per game). This is in spite of earning five attempts from the line per night and shooting 68% from the stripe in that span. And while Favors only averages 11.8 points per game in the last five games, he’s doing so at a very efficient 1.48 points per shot. To put that in perspective, given the 11.2 shots per game Trey Burke is already hoisting, Favors would produce 16.6 points per game at his recent clip. Burke is producing 9.4.

As the team’s best all-around player and most consistent post option, Derrick Favors needs to be a greater focal point of the offense. Doing so will not only benefit the Jazz on the offensive end but in all aspects of the game, because the more involved Favors is on offense, the better his overall production. In the five games this season where he took 12 or more shots, he’s averaging 18.5 points, 12.5 rebounds (including 8.5 on the defensive glass), two steals, and two blocks while shooting 58% from the floor. He’s even turning the ball over at a lower rate, two a game to his season normal two and a half.

As for Kanter, my hope is he goes back to the approach that worked so well early on in the season: opportunistic scoring. Crash the offensive glass, cut to the rim, run the floor, take the wide-open jumper when it’s there. If the Jazz offense can simply be respectable, Kanter can score well into the teens every night just taking what the defense gives him through his diversity and hustle. To get that consistently respectable offense, I marshal the dulcet tones of Christopher Walken as I say: “I gotta have more Favors!”

Author information

Clint Johnson
Clint Johnson
Clint Johnson is a professional author, writing educator, and editor. In addition to his writing center work at Salt Lake Community College, he designed, coordinates, and teaches in an experimental author residency program for a West Valley City public charter school. A frequent presenter at both writing and educational conferences, he writes about the Jazz as a break from his other writing work.
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Can Jeremy Evans be a Rotational Player? http://saltcityhoops.com/can-jeremy-evans-be-a-rotational-player/ http://saltcityhoops.com/can-jeremy-evans-be-a-rotational-player/#comments Thu, 21 Nov 2013 19:17:38 +0000 http://saltcityhoops.com/?p=8728 Author information
David J Smith
David J Smith
Besides writing for Salt City Hoops, David contributes to the Utah Jazz coverage for the Deseret News (instant analysis articles), WeAreUtahJazz.com, UtahJazz360.com and previously for Hoopsworld.com. He graduated from BYU and works for LDS Philanthropies. His wife, Elizabeth, is the most patient person in the world and they have four amazing children; Kadence, Tayah, Stockton (yes, really), and Cambria.
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Melissa Majchrzak/NBAE via Getty Images

Melissa Majchrzak/NBAE via Getty Images

For a team in need of some good news, the Utah Jazz received some yesterday: rookie point guard Trey Burke made his official NBA debut versus the New Orleans Pelicans. While the highly-anticipated return by Burke from his broken finger is understandably receiving the most attention and accompanying headlines, there was a second boost in morale in the form of Jeremy Evans also being deemed healthy.

All eyes are naturally be focused on Burke, but many ardent Jazz fans are eager to see how Evans performs this season. During the off-season, given the turnover on Utah’s roster (particularly in the front court), it was believed that the high-flying forward might finally have a spot in the regular line-up. Now will be the chance to see if that happens.

All this leads to some big questions. Is Jeremy Evans a bonafide rotational player in the NBA? Can he be more than a situational guy who has the knack for making highlight reel plays?

Evans is a tremendous joy to watch. He is always flashing a smile and it’s clear that he has a love for the game of basketball. He seems to be the consummate locker room presence, always encouraging his teammates and never causing a bit of discord. His sheer athleticism and out-of-this-world leaping ability quickly made him a fan favorite. Earl Watson’s alley was nothing without Jeremy Evans’ oop. While some pundits minimize his Slam Dunk championship due to a somewhat diluted field of competitors, he still won it, fair-and-square. He’s had his fair share of in-game highlights, too. Who can forget this one?

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M_CVAJBIwTA&autoplay=0]

And while it didn’t count, here’s this, as well.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7HBfdbxmKrk&autoplay=0]

Through his first three seasons, Evans has seen minimal court time. In fact, his playing time has decreased each passing season. All in all, he has registered a mere 895 minutes in 115 games–7.8 MPG. While his playing time has been inconsistent, Evans has managed to produce when his name has been called. He boasts a career 64.7 percent shooting mark for his career, while putting up 2.7 PPG and 1.8 RPG in his stints. There have been games where foul trouble or injuries paved the way for some appearances and he simply injected energy into the game.

He is an advanced stats’ darling. Over his three campaigns, Evans has a True Shooting Percentage of .659 and an Effective Field Goal Percentage of .647. He earns trips to the free throw line, too, as evidenced by his .750 Free Throw Attempt Rate last year. A smart shot-blocker with fine defensive instincts, Evans has a 4.8 Block Percentage, including 8.8 his second season. While some reserves have some sparkling advanced stats, he has produced his consistently over three seasons, which shows his potential to do some good things.

Evans could possibly play both forward positions for spells. Power forward has been where he’s logged the most time thus far in his career. While his slight frame causes issues inside–he can get pushed around and sometimes accrues fouls as a result–his speed and agility partially compensate. For him to play the small forward spot, Evans will have to evolve a bit. In the summer league and preseason, Evans displayed a much-improved jump shot, though his handle is a bit spotty. He will need to show that he can keep defenses honest if he is to assume some time at the three.

The Jazz’s front court depth could lead to Evans seeing an increased role. As expected, Derrick Favors and Enes Kanter are getting the lion’s share of playing time. Richard Jefferson has had a mini rejuvenation, but has not been consistent. Marvin Williams’ return has helped and he’s seen time as a stretch four. Mike Harris has been a surprise, but is limited. Given this line-up, Evans could demand minutes once he gets more into game-shape and could quickly take the time that Harris has been given. It’ll then be up to him to demonstrate what he is capable of in a more expansive role.

This season has been branded by some as a season of discovery– a chance to see what each player on the roster can do. Every individual on the team has or will assume a new niche in the rotation, and Jeremy Evans is not an exception. Will he become a rotational player? We will find out over the coming months.

Author information

David J Smith
David J Smith
Besides writing for Salt City Hoops, David contributes to the Utah Jazz coverage for the Deseret News (instant analysis articles), WeAreUtahJazz.com, UtahJazz360.com and previously for Hoopsworld.com. He graduated from BYU and works for LDS Philanthropies. His wife, Elizabeth, is the most patient person in the world and they have four amazing children; Kadence, Tayah, Stockton (yes, really), and Cambria.
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JazzRank #2: Derrick Favors’ Time to Shine http://saltcityhoops.com/jazzrank-2-derrick-favors-time-to-shine/ http://saltcityhoops.com/jazzrank-2-derrick-favors-time-to-shine/#comments Tue, 29 Oct 2013 21:54:14 +0000 http://saltcityhoops.com/?p=7655 Author information
Tracy Weissenberg
Tracy Weissenberg
Tracy Weissenberg is a writer for SLAM magazine, operating the “Basketballista” blog on slamonline.com, as well as working as an on-air reporter for SLAM TV. She also works for Turner Sports, working in production for various NBA television programs.
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Photo by Melissa Majchrzak/NBAE via Getty Images

Photo by Melissa Majchrzak/NBAE via Getty Images

Editor’s note: This is the penultimate in the annual series from Salt City Hoops ranking the current players on the Utah Jazz roster. Throughout the preseason, we’ll count up through the current Jazz roster, from worst to first, profiling each player as we go along. The profiles are individually written by Salt City Hoops’ staff of writers, while the ranking was selected by me (Andy Larsen). To go through JazzRank articles from this or past preseasons, visit our JazzRank category page. Derrick Favors is #2.

The time is now for Derrick Favors. The Utah Jazz let their free agent frontcourt walk this offseason: Al Jefferson signed a big contract with the Bobcats, and Paul Millsap is in a two-year transition deal with the Hawks. These actions pointed to the franchise’s confidence in their young power forward, only to later be solidified with a four-year, $49 million contract extension before the start of the season.

Favors, the 3rd overall pick in 2010, was acquired in the trade that sent franchise point guard Deron Williams to the Nets. Favors was given several seasons to develop, starting only 21 of 164 career games with the Jazz (contrasting the 23 starts in 56 games with the Nets during his rookie year).

In 2012-13, the third-year power forward showed improvements in nearly all categories, averaging a career-high 9.4 points and 7.1 rebounds in just over 23 minutes. His 1.7 blocks ranked 13th in the NBA, and only JaVale McGee of the Nuggets blocked more shots (2.0) in less playing time.

Last season, the Jazz offense was run by a committee of point guards, with assist leader Mo Williams appearing in only 46 games due to injuries. Williams, Earl Watson and Randy Foye–guards who all made starts last year–are no longer on the roster. Jamaal Tinsley, who started 32 games last season, was re-signed only four days before the season opener.

Utah traded up in the 2013 Draft, acquiring point guard Trey Burke with the ninth selection. It looked as if Burke would get handed the reins and have an opportunity to largely define the Jazz offense. Those plans will have to be put on hold due to a fractured right finger the rookie sustained during preseason. After undergoing surgery, Burke is expected to miss the first few weeks of the season, and the Jazz will once again rely on a committee to run the offense. This will likely have an impact on the development of Favors and the other bigs on the team, who are waiting to build a consistent on-court rapport and comfort level with the point guards.

Due to the shuffled roster and uncertain guard situation, Favors’ offense may require some patience. Without anyone on Utah’s roster consistently able to command double-teams, Favors will need to pick his spots offensively and not settle for bad shots. He will have to adjust to more defensive attention, especially if the Jazz go to him as a first or second option. His 7.4 field goal attempts per game will likely double, and while he will still get high percentage shots and putbacks, his shooting percentage could initially dip.

However, more responsibility on offense will lead to more facilitating opportunities. Last season, Favors averaged 1.0 assists and 1.7 turnovers. He rarely handled the ball, especially in his role off the bench. As a starter, Favors will be counted on to pass out of double teams and make quick decisions to maintain the flow of the offense. Expect his assists to increase, but the real stat to track is whether he can keep turnovers down as his possessions accumulate.

Utah, despite a number of three-point inclined guards, attempted less than 17 threes per game last season (28th in the league). If they continue to keep the ball inside, Favors should average a double-double, and easily slide into the Most Improved conversation.

While Favors has the opportunity to make great strides with his offense, he has already proven himself a solid defender–something the Jazz have definitely noticed during his tenure. Favors will be the key of a strong interior defense, as it will enable the team to stay afloat in low scoring, slower paced games.

If the play of Favors and Enes Kanter lives up to potential, then Utah was able to gain a formidable frontcourt in the trade for Deron Williams. The Jazz have created and stuck with their blueprint for a post-superstar era: part foresight, part solid draft moves, and part strategic aggressiveness by the front office–both in trading Williams early and letting Jefferson and Millsap walk.

Utah has likely designated 2013-14 as time to evaluate players in starting roles, with the promise of cap flexibility next season. However, with the quick extension to Favors, it is clear where he stands in the team’s future.

Author information

Tracy Weissenberg
Tracy Weissenberg
Tracy Weissenberg is a writer for SLAM magazine, operating the “Basketballista” blog on slamonline.com, as well as working as an on-air reporter for SLAM TV. She also works for Turner Sports, working in production for various NBA television programs.
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Derrick Favors – Was the Extension for Too Much? http://saltcityhoops.com/derrick-favors-and-the-jazzs-numbers-game/ http://saltcityhoops.com/derrick-favors-and-the-jazzs-numbers-game/#comments Mon, 28 Oct 2013 19:06:03 +0000 http://saltcityhoops.com/?p=8128 Author information
Ben Dowsett
Ben Dowsett
Ben Dowsett is a life-long Jazz fan and general sports fanatic based in Salt Lake City. He also writes for Nylon Calculus (Hardwood Paroxysm/Fansided Network), and can be heard on the airwaves for the SCH podcast and appearances with ESPN AM 700. With a strong background in both statistics and on-court fundemantals, he writes primarily as an in-depth strategic analyst. He can be found on Twitter at @Ben_Dowsett.
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Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images

One of the largest challenges in managing an NBA franchise outside a major market will always be the inherently unbalanced nature of free agency within the league.  The big boys just have the deck stacked in their favor in too many ways – TV/endorsement deals, the lure of the big city, or even a player’s desire to play for the teams they loved growing up.  Even with the globalization of media that’s taken place over the last decade or so, luring elite free agents on the open market has proven nearly impossible for small-to-medium market teams.

To attempt to offset this, the lesser markets have to maximize the areas over which they have control: drafting, developing, and retaining as many valuable assets as possible.  It’s a tricky game, one the Jazz are fully engaged in this offseason and likely for the next several.  The four-year, $49 million extension of Derrick Favors made the picture more clear, but was it the right way of doing so?

Let me first be clear: I like Favors a lot, and believe he certainly has the potential to live up to his extension.  But every dollar counts when there’s such paramount importance placed on getting these sorts of things right, and the stickler in me just thinks the Jazz could have done a little better.

Defensively, there’s no questioning the potential Favors brings with his athleticism and length.  He’s already above average in many areas, notably his pick-and-roll footwork, his rebounding, and his rim protection.  He’s still prone to many of the errors younger players make on defense – a tendency to leave his feet too soon, foul too often, and jump himself out of rebounding position trying to contest shots – and it will be telling to see how he improves in these areas.  The first play from the clip below demonstrates both sides of his defensive coin:

Favors is a step late on his rotation over to Pekovic, something that’s happened a little too frequently.  In this case it didn’t matter – his monster athleticism got him a free pass as he was able to elevate a half step early and swat the layup attempt cleanly.  It’s encouraging to see him leverage his athletic prowess, but as he begins to see more time against equally gifted athletes (many of his minutes so far in his career have come against bench units) he will need to remove those sort of lapses from his game.  While second-level defensive stuff like this is easier to pick up than some of the more technical offensive actions, there are still countless examples of ultra-athletic bigs who simply never fully figured out NBA defense.  And though Favors seems to possess at least an average basketball IQ, it’s very difficult to project if or when he might become a true top-15 defender league-wide – but given his struggles on offense, he might have to reach this point very soon to fully justify his extension.

On offense, his post-up game is virtually non-existent.  Apart from rare instances of using pure muscle on a smaller defender in a mismatch, Favors has no consistent way of generating good looks one-on-one.  His footwork and dribbling are miles behind his raw athleticism at this point, and many of the moves he tries result in wild attempts with a low success rate.  He has no jumper to speak of – per Hoopdata, of 67 qualified power forwards last season (minimum 15 minutes per game), he was 55th in field-goal percentage from 3-9 feet (28.0%), 42nd from 10-15 feet (36.6%), and 61st from 16-23 feet (a miserable 26.0%).  With this sort of knowledge, teams will happily give him these shots while loading up to prevent him getting to the basket.

Favors helps his case with strong work on the offensive glass, and he has all the physical tools to become an above-average pick-and-roll finisher.  But mastering the footwork and little intricacies, especially doing so on the fly against elite-level competition for the first time in his NBA career, will be no easy task.  And if he’s unable to improve his ability to generate his own shot in a pinch, even hitting 90% of his pick-and-roll potential won’t justify such a large contract unless he becomes a truly elite defender.

The atmosphere of the free agent market no doubt played a large role in the Jazz’s decision, most notably the recent max extension signed by Boogie Cousins in Sacramento.  And while Utah did well to avoid being roped into simply matching Cousins’ number for a player who could be very similar if he reaches his ceiling, it’s still curious to note bigs with whom Favors is now on an even footing or even earning slightly more than.  Joakim Noah, Kevin Garnett and Tim Duncan are all in the same ballpark, and while the latter two are chasing titles late in their careers, Noah is a defensive commodity on the same level as Favors (only far more proven against NBA starters) with a much more polished offensive game.

Perhaps the best comparison point, though, is Larry Sanders, the Bucks defensive ace who just signed a four-year, $44 million extension this offseason.  The two were extremely similar offensively, with Sanders even less impactful than Favors in the post and on isolation plays but significantly more effective as the roll man in pick-and-rolls (1.01 points per possession for Sanders, .85 PPP for Favors, per Synergy Sports).  But while their ceilings defensively are similar, Sanders has already realized far more of his potential in this area.

Despite playing more minutes against starters, Sanders was far better last season against isolation (.62 PPP allowed versus .82 PPP for Favors, a massive discrepancy) and post-ups (.70 PPP versus .92 PPP for Favors), while the two were nearly identical in Favors’ strongest area, pick-and-roll defense.  Moreover, while the Jazz were notably better defensively with Favors on the court, allowing 102.8 points per 100 possessions compared to 105.5 without him, the Bucks were an entirely different team with Sanders out there: his massive 6.8 on/off court point discrepancy per 100 possessions is equivalent to the difference between the third-ranked defense in the NBA and the 23rd-ranked defense (all PPP stats from Synergy).  The eye test backs all this up; Sanders is the better rotator, the quicker guy on isolation defense, and is less prone to mistakes with balance and timing.

In the end, the Jazz took the safer route and locked up their guy while they still had full control over the situation.  They can’t be criticized for this alone, but given all the unknown elements of Favors’ development and comparable salaries for more proven commodities elsewhere around the league, it would have been nice to see them work for a bit of a better bargain.  Playing hardball with the risk of allowing an asset to enter restricted free agency is always scary, but the Jazz have gobs of cap room for the foreseeable future.  Even if Favors were to exceed projections this year, the relative risk of being forced to match a max extension for him was worth taking a shot at getting him for $9 or $10 million a season and having a bargain contract if he made a leap anytime during the extension.  They’d then have had extra room to not only lock up the rest of their young core in the next few seasons (Hayward, Burks, etc.), but to hold cap space open for their two incoming first round picks in an absolutely stacked 2014 Draft.

NBA free agency is an ever-changing game, and the Jazz have always done a respectable job of contending despite their inherent disadvantages.  Even if this was an overpay, they still have a bright future ahead with one of the best stockpiles of young assets in the league.

Author information

Ben Dowsett
Ben Dowsett
Ben Dowsett is a life-long Jazz fan and general sports fanatic based in Salt Lake City. He also writes for Nylon Calculus (Hardwood Paroxysm/Fansided Network), and can be heard on the airwaves for the SCH podcast and appearances with ESPN AM 700. With a strong background in both statistics and on-court fundemantals, he writes primarily as an in-depth strategic analyst. He can be found on Twitter at @Ben_Dowsett.
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Favors’ Extension and Dennis Lindsey’s Thoughts on the Jazz – Salt City Hoops Saturday Show http://saltcityhoops.com/favors-extension-and-dennis-lindseys-thoughts-on-the-jazz-salt-city-hoops-saturday-show/ http://saltcityhoops.com/favors-extension-and-dennis-lindseys-thoughts-on-the-jazz-salt-city-hoops-saturday-show/#comments Mon, 21 Oct 2013 04:00:40 +0000 http://saltcityhoops.com/?p=8099 Author information
Andy Larsen
Andy Larsen
Andy Larsen is the Managing Editor of Salt City Hoops, the ESPN TrueHoop affiliate for the Utah Jazz. He also hosts a radio show and podcast every week on ESPN700 AM in Salt Lake City.
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On this week’s Saturday Show, Andy Larsen, Austin Horton and Dan Clayton talk about Derrick Favors newly signed extension with the Utah Jazz. Is 4 years, $49 million too much, a bargain, or just right for the young big man? We’ll talk about how his deal works out statistically, and compare it to the contracts of other big men around the league. Then, we break down Dennis Lindsey’s interview on The Big Show from Friday. In Lindsey’s opinion, does Alec Burks make more sense as a starter or off the bench? Do we agree? How is Trey Burke’s development affected by his injury, both now and in the future? And how will the Jazz perform in the 4th quarter with the young guys? All that and more on this week’s Saturday Show!

Author information

Andy Larsen
Andy Larsen
Andy Larsen is the Managing Editor of Salt City Hoops, the ESPN TrueHoop affiliate for the Utah Jazz. He also hosts a radio show and podcast every week on ESPN700 AM in Salt Lake City.
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http://saltcityhoops.com/favors-extension-and-dennis-lindseys-thoughts-on-the-jazz-salt-city-hoops-saturday-show/feed/ 0 Dennis Lindsey,Derrick Favors,Trey Burke On this week's Saturday Show, Andy Larsen, Austin Horton and Dan Clayton talk about Derrick Favors newly signed extension with the Utah Jazz. Is 4 years, $49 million too much, a bargain, or just right for the young big man? On this week's Saturday Show, Andy Larsen, Austin Horton and Dan Clayton talk about Derrick Favors newly signed extension with the Utah Jazz. Is 4 years, $49 million too much, a bargain, or just right for the young big man? We'll talk about how his deal works out statistically, and compare it to the contracts of other big men around the league. Then, we break down Dennis Lindsey's interview on The Big Show from Friday. In Lindsey's opinion, does Alec Burks make more sense as a starter or off the bench? Do we agree? How is Trey Burke's development affected by his injury, both now and in the future? And how will the Jazz perform in the 4th quarter with the young guys? All that and more on this week's Saturday Show! Salt City Hoops no 45:42