Derrick Favors Is Worth Every Penny of His Utah Jazz Contract Extension

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Derrick Favors Is Worth Every Penny of His Utah Jazz Contract Extension
Melissa Majchrzak/Getty Images

This week, the Utah Jazz held a press conference to announce the contract extension of fourth-year power forward Derrick Favors

This continues a whirlwind run for the big man that started when he was drafted third overall in the 2010 NBA draft by the New Jersey Nets

Thus far in his career, the talented Favors has just middle-of-the-road numbers and certainly not the kind of stats that fill up the box score. 

He is averaging only 8.3 points and 6.3 rebounds per game. 

However, the Jazz felt it necessary to give him a contract worth an average of nearly $12 million per season. 

The craziest part of this whole situation is that the Utah Jazz actually got a bargain. 

Derrick Favors is worth every penny of his contract extension and likely a whole lot more. 

 

Numbers don't lie

Sure, Favors has pedestrian numbers per game for his career. That really isn't up for debate. 

Melissa Majchrzak/Getty Images

But if you dig a little deeper, you see an entirely different story. 

Favors is only averaging 21.5 minutes per game for his career. This is due to a few factors.

First, he has played for coaches that are old school and make the young guys earn their minutes. 

Second, the Jazz have been incredibly deep up front. They have been trotting out a roster that included Al Jefferson, Paul Millsap and Enes Kanter amongst others. Each of those players is good enough to start on most squads.

Third, Favors has had trouble picking up fouls. For his career, he is averaging just shy of three personal fouls per game despite playing less than half the game minutes-wise.

Each of these factors on their own would make things difficult, but combined they made it nearly impossible for Favors to get substantial run.

This forces us to move the goalpost so to speak in order to properly assess his effectiveness.

In many ways, this reminds me of the case of the Detroit Pistons' Andre Drummond last season.

Allen Einstein/Getty Images

For the year, he averaged less than eight points and eight boards per game. However, when you move the minutes back you see a totally different story. Drummond averaged over 13 points and rebounds per 36 minutes. 

Favors, like Drummond, has much better numbers when you correct for the minutes. 

Each of the last two seasons Favors has averaged over 14 points and 11 rebounds per game per 36 minutes. He is doing this with a field-goal percentage of over 48 percent while also contributing good defense around the hoop. 

To make matters even more Favor-able (sorry, couldn't help myself), Favors is improving on the defensive side of the ball. He improved his blocks per 36 minutes to 2.6 from 1.7 and his steals from 1.0 to 1.3. 

Those numbers put him into some select company. 

 

How Favors stacks up

Favors, based on his numbers per 36 minutes, becomes a player that is in exclusive company. 

Let's take a look at some of the players that averaged numbers similar to Favors. 

Only six players averaged more than 11 rebounds per game last season, and while not all of them averaged 36 minutes per game, most were close. Those players were Dwight Howard, Nikola Vucevic, Omer Asik, Zach Randolph, David Lee and Reggie Evans. 

Bob Levey/Getty Images

Of those six, only Howard, Randolph and Lee averaged more points per game than Favors (per 36 minutes) and only Howard averaged more points, rebounds and blocks than Favors. 

Even if we eliminate blocks from the equation and just compare Favors with Howard, Randolph and Lee, it becomes clear what a value Favors is. 

Howard will earn over $20 million per season for the foreseeable future, Randolph is going to earn an average of $17.5 million over the next two seasons and Lee is making upwards of $13.8 for the next three seasons. 

To top it off, Favors is substantially younger than each of those three. He begins this season at the ripe old age of 22 and finishes his deal when he is still very much in his prime. 

And while some may argue that his numbers may not necessarily continue with the same trajectory that they are projected to, through just one game this season it is easy to see why the Jazz are excited about their young stud. 

During their season debut against the Oklahoma City Thunder, Favors scored 15 points to go along with two blocks and nine boards. 

This certainly suggests that his numbers are trending in the right direction. 

 

Beggars can't be choosers

Okay, so this subheading may seem a little harsh and is somewhat misleading. Salt Lake City, Utah is not a bad place. 

I was in SLC once and I found it to be very pleasant. Utah in general is gorgeous, with fantastic views and some truly nice and genuine people. 

But it gets a bad rap from NBA players because it isn't known for its night life. 

When the Jazz are looking to bolster their roster, they usually have to write off the top free agents because they just can't compete with the likes of Miami and Los Angeles for young talent that is looking to have fun at night. 

Therefore they generally rely on the draft, trades and mid-range free-agent talent for their roster improvements. 

In the past this has proved to be a hit-or-miss venture. The most famous example of how this paid off was when they struck gold by drafting both Karl Malone and John Stockton, two players that weren't concerned in the least about the night life or partying.

Nathaniel S. Butler/Getty Images

It was a rarity, however, for them to extend young players that they had either drafted or traded for over the years, and their one true exception, Carlos Boozer, presided over a forgettable era of Jazz basketball. 

Let's face it, in today's NBA, the Jazz are seen as a lower-tier team as far as free-agent destinations go. It isn't fair, but it's the reality. 

That's what makes the signing of Favors such a coup d'etat

They not only were able to keep the centerpiece of the trade that shipped Deron Williams out of town, but they were able to keep one of the best young power forwards in the game out west when he is just scratching the surface of his talent. 

And considering the fact that he is improving at this point in his career, he could be outplaying his contract by the middle of this season. 

Take, for example, the other players that are making similar money to Favors. 

Of the players that are making $12 million or more this season, only Eric Gordon, Russell Westbrook, Blake Griffin and Derrick Rose are close in age to Favors. However, he is the youngest of this group by at least two years. 

The list of players earning around $12 million per season is loaded with players that have already reached or exceeded their primes. These include Nene, Kris Humphries and David West

I would wager a bet that nearly every general manager in the league would prefer to have Favors at this point in his career over any of those guys. 

Other players in a similar tax bracket include Josh Smith, Ben Gordon and Kevin Garnett, three more players that are good but would not be accepted in a straight-up trade for Favors. 

The simple fact is that the Jazz made one of the shrewdest moves of not only this year, but in the history of the franchise. 

Noah Graham/Getty Images

They set up their frontcourt with one of the league's more talented big men and he isn't even in his prime yet. 

His numbers are trending up, and if he continues to play the way he is playing, the Jazz could have the makings of a future superstar for a bargain price. 

The Jazz simply knocked this extension out of the park. 

 

Note: Stats taken from Basketball-Reference.com; salary information taken from Hoopsworld.com.

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