Trey Burke beats the Orlando Magic. Last night, the Jazz beat the Arron Afflalo-less Magic 86-82 in a very tight game that served as Trey Burke's NBA coming out party. Amar has your game recap right here.
Other than Trey Burke's stellar 30/8/7 game, the thing I noticed most was the return of Derrick Favors' dominant defense. Favors ended up blocking 5 shots on the night and altering a ton more. If Favors played like this on the defensive end every night, then the preseason talk of him being a contender for the all-defensive teams, may just come true.
Is Favors Improving as the Season Goes Along? One of the themes of this year so far has been the improvement of Favors as the season has gone along. While my eyes have been telling me it is so, I thought I'd take a look at his statistics to see if I was correct.
The following table is a breakdown of Favors' weekly statistics normalized to a 36 minute per game basis.
Derrick Favors' Weekly Statistics
(per 36 minutes)
While each of these weeks represents a small sample size, usually just 3-4 games, there do appear to be some trends. The thing that pops out at me the most is Favors' FG% in 4 of the last 5 weeks. Other than the one week at 46% he has been at or near 60% in the 5 other weeks, which is a very high percent even for a big man.
One thing that surprises me on the downside, is that Favors' turnover rate has seemed to stay the same. My eyes have been telling me that he has been getting better at passing, but according to the numbers he has been fairly flat at around 2.9 turnovers per game.
Any trends that I am missing here?
Is Favors Earning his Contract? Now that we have started to collect a decent sample size of what Favors has been able to do as a starter, it is time to take a look at whether he is earning his new contract. While Favor's $48MM, 4 year contract extension does not go into effect until next year, we can gauge his performance against all other NBA Bigs who are earning 8-figure annual salaries.
The following table contains the points per game, rebounds per game, blocks per game and PER for the highest paid Bigs in the league based on 2013-14 salary:
|Emeka Okafor (12-13)||$14,487,500||9.7||8.8||1.0||15.88|
Favors' 2013-14 salary of $6MM would place him last in this salary ranking chart, however his $12MM/year contract average would have him tied for 22nd (out of 31). Of the 31 Big Men making 8 figures or more this year Favors is 19th in points, 14th in rebounds, tied for 10th in blocks, and 11th in PER. Of the 11 guys that are +/- $1M of Favors annual average of $12MM/year, he is 6th in points, 4th in rebounds, tied for 5th in blocks, and 2nd in PER.
Accordingly, based on a market comparable approach of valuing similarly paid big men, it would appear to me that Favors is currently earning his contract so far this year.
So what do you think, is Favors' fairly compensated? Over compensated? Under compensated?
Is Favors getting enough shots? Derrick Favors is (currently) the most efficient offensive player on the Utah Jazz. While this has not been the historical case, it is true for this year, at least according to points per shot (PPS). So that being the case, Favors must be getting most of the field goal attempts on the team, right? RIGHT?
The following table shows the team leaders in some key offensive stats including Field Goal Attempts per 36 Minutes (FG36):
Utah Jazz Primary Rotation Players
FGA per 36 Mins
|Trey Burke, PG||29.1||12.4||4.7||12.5||15.5||37%||0.995|
|Gordon Hayward, SG||36.2||16.9||6.0||14.7||14.6||41%||1.143|
|Alec Burks, PG||27.1||12.9||4.7||10.9||14.5||43%||1.176|
|Enes Kanter, C||27.6||11.8||5.1||10.6||13.8||48%||1.109|
|Derrick Favors, PF||31.8||13.6||5.4||10.3||11.7||53%||1.327|
|Marvin Williams, PF||26.3||10.1||3.9||8.5||11.6||46%||1.186|
|John Lucas III, PG||18.4||5.0||1.9||5.7||11.2||33%||0.875|
|Jeremy Evans, SF||21.4||7.8||3.4||6.5||10.9||53%||1.198|
|Richard Jefferson, SF||27.2||9.9||3.5||8.1||10.7||43%||1.218|
According to the table Favors is 5th on the team in FGA and FG36 at 10.3 and 11.7 respectively. Favors trails every member of the F5 in FGA and according to FG36 he is just barely above the other rotation players like Marvin Williams, Lucas, Evans and Jefferson. All this despite the fact that Favors PPS of 1.327 is by far the best on the team. The one missing ingredient here is free throw attempts. Favors does shoot a great deal which bolsters his PPS and lowers his FGA. That said, based on these numbers, why shouldn't Favors be getting the ball more?
Is the Favors/Kanter duo doomed? Going into the season one of the biggest questions facing the Jazz was whether Favors and Kanter were a compatible front court. Former Jazz assistant coach Phil Johnson recently weighed in on the pairing in an interview:
I had my questions about that from the very beginning…They both can make about a 15-foot jumpshot, but neither one of them are a "stretch" big man, as they call it now, or an outside big man. So, and neither one of them are particularly good at play-making. I’m talking about passing.
...I think that’s going to play out as time goes on, but I suspect that, I don’t think they’ll ever be really that successful playing together.
It should be noted that Johnson left shortly before the Jazz acquired Favors and drafted Kanter. That said, it is interesting that he states that he had questions about the pair from "the very beginning." Coach Johnson worked with Jerry Sloan and Kevin O'Connor for years and you would think he'd have a good idea what would work in the Jazz system. Furthermore, you have to wonder if he was still with the team when Kanter was drafted, if he would have raised his concerns and persuaded O'Connor to not select Kanter in the first place
Johnson's initial points about the pairing are on offense. The prior prominent Jazz duos that Johnson had coached recently were Al Jefferson/Paul Millsap and Mehmet Okur/Carlos Boozer. I do not think anyone would dispute that the Okur/Boozer pairing match what Johnson describes above in having big men that can pass and at least one that can stretch the floor. The Jefferson/Millsap pairing arguably meets that criteria, though Millsap never exhibited the deep range that Okur had and Jefferson's passing was a work in progress.
And then there’s the issues defensively as well, because when the other team has a stretch player such as Ryan Anderson from New Orleans, th–it’s difficult for those guys to guard those people.
So you know, there are some question marks, but that’s what this year’s all about, is to find that out. Maybe they’ll prove me wrong. I don’t know...
...And I think the biggest question mark in my mind, as far as Kanter’s concerned, is his defense, and whether, he really has to improve defensively. Favors is really a very good defender now, but Kanter really has to pr–improve defensively.
Johnson goes on to discuss the defensive issues that come with a stretch big man. His point also recalls to me the issues with the Okur/Boozer pairing as that duo always had difficulty protecting the rim.
Finally, as Johnson points out, this year is all about finding out the question marks with the team. So it is a good thing that (until the Orlando game) in the past 12 games when Favors, Kanter and Marvin Williams have all been available, Favors and Kanter have played exactly 0 minutes on the floor together.