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2010 NBA Draft Prospect Profile: Derrick Favors

Editor's Note, by rook6980:
This is the fourth installment in what I expect to be a regular posting on Draft Prospects.  This series will take a look at the top draft prospects for the 2010 NBA Draft in June. The plan is to have one or two a week, leading up to a flurry of activity the week of the draft. My DVR is crammed full of College games, and I'm watching and writing as fast as I can (between Wizards games).

Just another note: These draft prospect articles are not necessarily done in any order... but rather their order is based on which College games I've had time to watch and analyze; and which ones my editor (Mike Prada) thinks may be particularly pertinent at the time.

Draft Prospect assessments:
John Wall
Evan Turner
Wesley Johnson
DeMarcus Cousins    Upcoming
Al-Farouq Aminu         Upcoming
Cole Aldrich                 Upcoming
Greg Monroe               Upcoming

Derrick Favors

  • 18 years old
  • 6'10"; 246 lbs.
  • Georgia Tech, Freshman

Runs like a deer, jumps out of the gym. I really hate that trite cliché, but in the case of Derrick Favors, it fits. He has that combination of size, strength, skill and athleticism that makes General Managers drool. I've said this about other players before (John Wall), but Favors has "freakish" athleticism. Now combine the physical tools with a person that is reportedly a hard worker, with good grades, great character, leadership ability, with a high intensity motor, a tremendous work ethic and a fine young man to boot. The tools and the intangibles are all there. Derrick Favors could be special.

Favors was mostly used as a PF or Center in High School, using his size, strength and athleticism to get to the rim. As a result, he was the #1 prospect in the 2009 high school class.  But at Georgia Tech, he has been asked to play the high post. Unfortunately, unlike other big men in the top of this year's draft (cough, Cousins, cough), Derrick Favors does not have the luxury of an elite, pass-first Point Guard to get him easy shots. Georgia Tech's half court Offense is, to be kind, awful. Favors plays the high post, and Gani Lawal (also a projected first round pick) plays the low post. Since none of the GT guards can hit an outside shot, most teams just pack the lane, double team Favors or Lawal, and dare the Yellow Jacket guards to shoot from outside. Needless to say, that has depressed Favors' (and Lawal's) statistics. He is averaging a very pedestrian 12.5 ppg, 8.5 rpg and 2.1 bpg. Hardly numbers that you would expect from a top-5 pick in the draft; but everyone knows that Favors will be a much better pro player than he has shown in College; because he needs to play in the low post where he can dominate, as opposed to standing in the foul circle surrounded by two or three defenders.

Foul trouble early in the year, limited his minutes and his numbers. In his first 7 games, he was averaging a very high 5.2 fouls per 40 minutes. Since then, Favors has learned to play defense without fouling, cutting almost 1.5 fouls per 40 minutes off his foul rate. Offensively, I didn't see enough of Favors in the post, especially early in the year, to come up with a full analysis of his game. However, something changed in the last 8 games or so, as Georgia Tech Coach Paul Hewitt had Favors in the paint more. He responded by increasing his productivity. Over the last 8 games, Derrick Favors has averaged 17.1 points on 65% shooting, 10.8 rebounds and 3.5 blocks. Now THOSE are numbers that are worthy of a top 5 pick.

The Yellow Jackets made a nice run in the ACC Tournament  with Derrick Favors leading the way. Against defending ACC Champ North Carolina, Favors had 18 points, nine rebounds and five blocks. Next, he helped GT win against a very good Maryland club, with 11 points, 11 rebounds and three blocks. He had 17 points, eight rebounds and two blocks as Georgia Tech beat North Carolina State to get to the ACC Final, then followed it up with another terrific game with 22 points, 11 rebounds and two blocks as GT narrowly lost to Duke in the title game.

Offensively, Derrick Favors is a mixed bag. He is is explosive around the rim, and a fabulous finisher. He's super efficient, shooting over 61% from the field for the year. When he's not throwing down ferocious dunks, he shows a nice touch around the basket with both hands. He can spin either way, and put up a baby hook in the lane with either his right or left hand. He's got good, soft hands and catches everything thrown his way; whether it's a spectacular alley-oop pass, or a simple entry pass to the post. I guess, for Wizards fans, it's especially important to mention that fact. He has made some very dramatic improvement in his post footwork; showing off a variety of pivots, spins and drop steps; something he didn't show earlier this year. However, he does NOT handle double teams well, and he's not a very good passer - and therefore he turns the ball over. His ball handling is almost non-existant, unless he's dribbling in a straight line - and as a result, he can't always create his own shot.

As for his jump shot, Favors has a nice looking stroke out to 12 feet or so, but he has not been very good, hitting less than 30% of his jumpers this year. Fortunately, he does not take a lot of jump shots, but at the next level he will need to get better at hitting that shot. I don't see anything in his mechanics or release that looks wrong or broken. His shot looks consistent, with good form and a high release; but it is a bit flat and sometimes he looks rushed. I don't think there's anything there that cannot be fixed with practice and a good shooting coach.

Favors doesn't seem to have a consistent offensive move, unless you count a dunk as an offensive move. In the NBA, he'll need to develop a pet move, something he can rely on to get his shot off. Also, although GT does not run much, Favors should be excellent in transition. He's a terrific finisher, and runs the floor better than most guards. He also looks like he'd be a very good pick-and-roll finisher, assuming he teams up with a talented shot-creating guard.

Easily the best defensive big man in the early draft (especially compared to Cousins), Favors has good defensive fundamentals. In one-on-one situations, he establishes a solid base, gets into a crouch, and refuses to give ground. Very physical, Favors certainly doesn't shy away from contact; and as a result, he can still get into foul trouble from time to time. As already mentioned, Favors can really jump, and that, in conjunction with his tremendous wingspan (9'1" standing reach) and excellent timing makes him a special shot blocker. He doesn't usually bite on fakes - knowing that he's tall enough, and long enough to contest shots without jumping at every twitch. He has very good quickness, something he rarely uses on Offense... but on Defense, his quickness allows him to step out on the pick-and-roll and still get back to his man. He's even very good when switched onto a smaller player; with lateral quickness enough to stay in front of all but the quickest guards. He has a high activity level on Defense, putting as much effort on Defense as Offense.

Even if he's not touching the ball offensively, he can still impact every phase of the game. Favors is an excellent rebounder, utilizing not only his superior athleticism, but also displaying good fundamentals, timing and court awareness. Much like Blake Griffin last year, when a shot goes up Favors finds his man, puts a body on him and boxes out. He has a very good sense of how the ball will come off the rim and uses his superior leaping ability to go up (usually with two hands) to snatch the rebound. He rebounds in crowds. Because of his quickness, he also snags rebounds outside his area. If Gani Lawal (6'9") weren't there (grabbing 8.7 rebounds per game), Derrick Favors would be right up there with the leading rebounders in College - he's that good.

Given his superior physical tools, and his coachability and work ethic, I see no reason why Favors won't be an impact player right away on the defensive end. Favors has not only the tools, but the mentality to become an elite defender in the NBA.

NBA body: Long, tall, huge wingspan, Excellent hands
Good size, strength and frame (can still add muscle)
Strong Intangibles: Work ethic, attitude, unselfish, Coachable
Freak athleticism
Plays hard, all the time
Strong finisher at the rim
Good footwork
Efficient scorer inside
Can finish through heavy contact
Can use both hands
Excellent rebounder
Excellent defensive fundamentals
Contests shots
Terrific shot blocker
Potentially All-First team Defense in the NBA
Tremendous upside
Low bust potential

Needs a "go to" move
Needs to improve ball handling
Turnover prone
Jump shot needs work
Cannot create his own shot
GT system makes him hard to evaluate fairly

Envision Amare Stoudemire; but an Amare that can and will play excellent defense. Derrick Favors is still raw, especially offensively; and a long ways from being compared to Stoudemire; but with improvements to certain facets of his game - he could get there. In fact, I think he would be a better pick than Aminu or Cousins. Why? Because of his intangibles.. his work ethic.. his attitude... the fact that every Coach he's ever played for calls him a "great kid" and very coachable.

And, he’s still only 18 years old.