Derrick Favors was the third pick of the 2010 NBA Draft after spending just one season at Georgia Tech. At 6'10", 248 pounds, Favors has a great balance of athleticism and strength. He is as quick as any guard or forward in the league and can bang down low against stronger bigs as well. Coming into the league, his expectations were extremely high because of his potential.
However, Favors' is currently in his third season in the NBA and is still buried on the Utah Jazz bench. He's averaging 9.2 PPG, 6.6 RPG, 0.8 APG, 1.0 steals, 1.6 blocks on 44% shooting from the field in 22.3 minutes per game. By no means are those numbers terrible.
In fact, his production in just over 22 minutes a game are great for a role player. But will we ever see Favors break out and reach his highest potential? He's been considered as an All-Star level talent, so when will we see him play like one?
Let's take a look at some of Favor's in-depth statistics so far this season (stats accurate as of 1/6/2013 from Basketball Reference):
|PER||TRB%||Off. Rtg||Def. Rtg|
In terms of PER, Favors is ranked 22nd among all power forwards. PER describes how efficiently a player contributes while he's on the floor. Favors' rank seems to be a bit low, but part of it is because of the minutes he plays. The amount of minutes don't affect this statistic directly, but players who are on the floor longer tend to play more consistently.
Rebounding is the most important aspect for a big man, and his total rebounding rate is not far off from the likes of Tim Duncan (18.5) and Zach Randolph (20.6). A player's rebounding rate is the percentage of the total rebounds he gets while he's on the court. Favors' is way more athletic than either of those aforementioned players, and he can only get better with experience.
Favors' defensive efficiency is slightly worse than that of Blake Griffin and Randolph (both are at 98), and his offensive efficiency is far from close to any elite power forward. However, those two ratings have a lot to do with his team's effort as well. Being on a middle-of-the-pack team like the Jazz will certainly hurt those stats.
Limited Playing Time
The issue for Favors is that the Jazz have a stacked frontcourt. If Favors' were to get more playing time, it would come at the expense of either Paul Millsap or Al Jefferson. At this point in their careers, Millsap and Jefferson will be the same players that they are right now. Both of their ceilings are relatively low and they won't get much better than they already are.
So now the common fan would ask: "Why not just start Favors and play him more?"
Well, the problem is that Millsap and Jefferson are the team's two best players. There's simply not enough room on the court to fit all three players (four if you consider Enes Kanter).
On a per-36 minute basis, Favors records 14.9 PPG, 10.6 RPG, 1.6 steals and 2.5 blocks. Those numbers already look good, and they will only get better with experience. In order for Favors to reach his highest potential, he needs to play more minutes.
Athleticism and Fundamentals
Favors has all the tools necessary to become one of the best power forwards in the league. He's an incredible athlete for his height and that gives him an advantage over most bigs.
It's natural that an athletic big man is described to have "high potential", but Favors' has more than just athleticism.
He has a high basketball IQ and knows how to defend. He isn't someone like Javale McGee who, for the most part, uses his athleticism to go for crazy, risky blocks.
He knows the fundamentals of ball denial, staying in front of his man, and positioning for defending in the post. Favors is already known for being a great defender at such a young age.
Favors' main weakness is on offense. His offensive game is limited to put-backs and finishing pick and rolls. He has shown flashes of a post-game, but it still needs a lot of work, although, that's something he can develop.
Derrick Favors can already produce at a high level when he is given the opportunity to do so. If he wants to become one of the best big men in the game, he needs to have a bigger role and continue to improve on both ends of the court.
If the reports are true and the Jazz do end up shipping away one, or both, of their starting frontcourt players, then Favors will have more opportunity to produce. It'll only be a matter of time until Favors breaks out and shows the world his talent.