Why Derrick Favors Is Poised to Become a Breakout Star in 2012-13

Stephen Babb@@StephenBabbFeatured ColumnistAugust 22, 2012

May 5, 2012; Salt Lake City, UT, USA; Utah Jazz forward Derrick Favors (15) is defended by San Antonio Spurs forward DeJuan Blair (45) during the first half of game three in the Western Conference quarterfinals of the 2012 NBA Playoffs at EnergySolutions Arena.  Mandatory Credit: Russ Isabella-US PRESSWIRE
Russ Isabella-US PRESSWIRE

If you recall, there was a pretty good reason the then New Jersey Nets were able to get their hands on Deron Williams and make him the face of the franchise's Brooklyn rebirth.

And it wasn't Devin Harris.

The real centerpiece of that deal was young big man Derrick Favors, an explosive 6'10" athlete taken with the third-overall pick in 2010. There's never been a question about his upside, but Favors is still waiting for an opportunity to justify the hype surrounding his early career.

His opportunities to do so with the Utah Jazz have thus far been limited on account of the team's interior depth.

The organization still boasts a rotation at the 4 and 5 spots that consists of starters Al Jefferson and Paul Millsap, along with Favors and 20-year-old center Enes Kanter.

Consequently, Favors averaged just over 20 minutes in 22 games with Utah in 2010-11, and just over 21 minutes per game last season. Unless the Jazz make a move in the near future, it won't be easy to expand upon that playing time significantly.

Nevertheless, Favors isn't getting discouraged just yet.

In fact, according to the Deseret News' Jody Genessy, Favors is looking to make serious contributions this season one way or the other:

"Just try to build on what I did last year and just keep improving," Favors said. "I just want to play. I just want to play. I'm really not worried about starting, all that stuff right now. I just want to go out there and play."

If he continues to do what he's been doing, it may become increasingly difficult for head coach Ty Corbin to justify keeping him off the floor.

That's exactly what happened in the first round of the playoffs last season.

After playing a combined 47 minutes through the first two contests against the San Antonio Spurs, Corbin adjusted his rotation to afford Favors 32 minutes in Game 3 and 37 more in Game 4. Needless to say, he responded.

In those final two games, Favors averaged 15.5 points, 10.5 rebounds, two blocks and two steals.

That's probably the kind of production Corbin could expect from Favors were he to take on a more prominent role.

He averaged 8.8 points, 6.5 rebounds and a block in 21.3 minutes last season, so you can safely imagine he'll be a double-double machine if and when he starts playing 35 minutes a game. On paper, that might not look all that much better than what Utah gets out of starting power forward Paul Millsap.

But, there are some important differences between the two players.

For starters, Millsap is already 27 and in the final year of his contract. He'll probably be due somewhere in the neighborhood of $8 million per season next summer after passing on Utah's extension offer in August.

The Jazz should be prepared to save their money. They'll need it for Favors in a couple of years, and he's the guy around whom this organization should be looking to build.

It's not just that he's six years younger than Millsap, though that should be reason enough to prefer him over the long term.

It's also that Favors is bigger and more explosive than Millsap. He's the kind of guy who can make a much greater impact on the defensive end of the floor thanks to his ability to help Al Jefferson defend the paint.

Millsap averaged 1.8 steals last season, but he won't intimidate scorers with his size. Nor is he likely to age especially gracefully as he loses some of his quickness and athleticism. Just ask similarly-sized 4s like Elton Brand and Carlos Boozer.

Utah take a longer look at Favors, because he's the one you want anchoring this lineup in five years. When you do, he'll respond with a breakout campaign.

We know what he can do inside, and he's shown signs of a much-improved mid-range game as well. Combined with his defensive presence, a well-rounded scoring prowess will instantly make Favors one of the best 4s in the West.

It may still be some time before he rivals Kevin Love and LaMarcus Aldridge as the next big thing, but he could certainly leapfrog the ever-flashy Blake Griffin this season.

However you rank him, Favors will make a name for himself while also making his franchise look pretty good for that package it received for Deron Williams.


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