Checklist for Derrick Favors to Become Bona Fide Star for Utah Jazz This Season

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Checklist for Derrick Favors to Become Bona Fide Star for Utah Jazz This Season
Russ Isabella-USA TODAY Sports

Derrick Favors isn't far from being a bona fide star for the Utah Jazz. He has all of the intangibles of a next-level player.

He has a rare mix of size, athleticism and agility, weighing in at 6'10'' and 250 pounds while still being able to throw it down with some serious authority.

If you don't believe me, check out the highlight reel from the 2012-13 season to see that athleticism and size in action.

The only problem is it takes more than athleticism and size to be a true star in the NBA. To be a star, a player must be unstoppable in multiple facets of the game. If a player is limited in what he can do, opponents can force him out of the game by making him beat them with what he's not great at.

Take, for example, the NBA superstar better known as LeBron James.

Before he worked on his post game and jump shot, teams would force him to beat them with his jumper by not letting him get into the lane. They took his best asset away and said, "Beat us with your weakness."

He was still an incredible player, but he wasn't at his highest level, because teams were able to stop him from completely taking over games on a consistent basis. 

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The same can be said for Favors right now. But fortunately, his weaknesses can be improved upon.

 

Become Efficient and Deadly in the Mid-Range

Favors isn't one of those big men in the NBA who can't shoot outside of 10 feet, which is great for the young power forward. At this point in his career, though, he's not a legitimate threat outside the paint, and that's how teams keep him at bay.

Just take a look at his shot chart from the 2012-13 season. Sure, he shot around 49 percent from the field, but outside the paint, there are lots and lots of white circles.

Courtesy of vorped.com

Right now, teams know if they can keep Favors away from the paint, they can minimize his impact, and that's exactly what they do. That's a major reason he failed to average double digits on offense last season.

Favors needs to take time in the gym, putting up mid-range shot after mid-range shot. Not only will it make him a more versatile player, but it will also significantly help the Utah Jazz win games.

All Favors needs to do is take a walk down the Jazz's wall of fame and look at Karl Malone to see how having a mid-range game can enhance his overall game.

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Develop a Go-To Post Move

Every big man in the NBA who is considered a star understands the importance of having a post game that is rooted in a go-to post move.

Dwight Howard has his often inconsistent mini-hook. Zach Randolph has his patented up-and-under. And Tim Duncan has his "duck and cover" scoop shot at the rim.

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Favors needs to follow suit and develop a post move defenders can't stop. Right now, he uses sheer athleticism and force to overpower defenders in the post, but that's not going to elevate him to the next level in the NBA. And it certainly won't make him a star.

Blake Griffin is in the same boat. He can score at the rim and make it look pretty, but defenders know he won't be effective if they keep him in front of them.

Favors is the kind of player who can elevate without hesitation, and he needs to use that to his advantage in the post. A simple up-fake, rotation and elevation into a mid-range floater could be his go-to move. By the time his opponent elevates, Favors will already be backpedaling down the court.

Without a go-to post move, Favors will be a mid-level talent in the NBA. That won't help him earn the big bucks, and it certainly won't elevate the Jazz out of mediocrity.

 

Become a Student of the Game

One of the things that separates elite players from great players is their passion for understanding the game of basketball—not just the statistics, history and numbers of the game, but an actual understanding of the flow of the game and a meticulous understanding of the gritty details.

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Players need to understand the science behind the pick-and-roll, how to force players to the weak side, the chess match that is player rotations, individual matchups on both sides of the ball and so on.

Favors is at a crossroads in his career. He can either continue to rely on athleticism or transition to being a cerebral player who understands the mental aspect of the game.

Instead of simply overpowering defenders, Favors can learn to get an offensive advantage and maximize different aspects of his game. His reliance on dunking and getting to the rim will be superseded by his ability to beat his opponents efficiently and intelligently, and that will make him a star for the Jazz.

 

Be More Than a Shot Blocker on Defense

Ed Szczepanski-USA TODAY Sports

Favors is known more for his shot-blocking abilities than his defensive acuity. That's certainly not a huge problem, but it's an area he can improve.

Since entering the NBA in 2010, Favors has been known as a shot-blocker, averaging 1.7 blocks last season and 1.2 blocks per game throughout his career.

Those numbers are great, but they point to a part of Favors' game he needs to improves—his reliance on shot-blocking as his "niche" on defense.

Russ Isabella-USA TODAY Sports

Shot-blocking is an important aspect of the game, but it doesn't make you a solid defender in the NBA. It's exciting and fun to watch, but it doesn't make a huge impact on the defensive side of the ball if it's not matched with solid defensive discipline.

Favors is a good defender, but the Jazz need him to be a great defender. And the difference between being good and great on defense is discipline and an understanding of the game. This is where Favors can improve, and it takes maturity and a willingness to learn from the veterans of the game.

Unfortunately, there aren't any legitimate veterans on the Jazz for him to learn from. Maybe a trip to see Mr. Olajuwon is in store for the young Favors.

Russ Isabella-USA TODAY Sports

If he can focus on the four main points listed above, Favors can become a superstar in the NBA and the Jazz's star player for years to come.

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