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Utah Jazz Player Previews - Derrick Favors

"So you're here to save the world. What do you say to something like that?" - Cypher, The Matrix

Who Is This Guy?

Sorry, those are the expectations kid. "Any package would have to include Derrick Favors." That's a general idea of what Kevin O'Connor said to Billy King after the Nets GM half-heartedly asked if Deron Williams was available. After King picked himself up off the floor, the two began to put together a trade for the two-time All-star.

For Derrick Favors it was a sweet release from the life of constant trade rumors and not knowing which day would be his last in a Nets uniform. New Jersey was trying to trade the #3 pick in the 2010 draft as soon as they got it. They ended up drafting the best player available in their eyes. That's the method for a lot of teams. Their reason wasn't to get the best player to play and develop. It was to get the best player that would provide them the most in return for a trade. Whether it was to the Nuggets or - unknown to most at the time - to the Jazz, he was going get traded regardless.

Just when Jazz fans had returned to any semblance of normalcy after Jerry Sloan stepped down, the Jazz pulled the trigger on the trade that would jet them back to shock and bewilderment. In the span of two weeks, the franchise had done a complete 360 as the Mailman would say.

The reason I bring all that up in a post about Derrick Favors is to try to project a little bit of what Sloan and Williams meant to the team. While Derrick Favors isn't replacing Sloan, he's immediately become the face of the franchise in the eyes of many fans. The team's identity for so many years was that of a hard-nosed, executing, and precision team under Jerry. Even after Stockton and Malone retired, that aura still stood with the team with Sloan as coach.

That's why the expectations are high for Favors. He obviously has the physical tools to become something special. And while he's not vocal about it, his competitiveness is as high as anyone else's. We've seen a glimpse of what he can do and now we want him to do that all the time. In one of his best games of the year, he put up 14 & 11 in 30 minutes against the Lakers and their bigs late in the season. Fans are expecting more.

While the Jazz are still in a hybrid mode of rebuilding and playing the vets, Derrick Favors, Gordon Hayward, Enes Kanter, Alec Burks, and the others are the future. For those that were at the jersey unveiling last week, did you notice who was on the backdrop? Favors and Hayward. That's who the Jazz are promoting.

The future is Favors. We need an All-star in return for our All-NBA player that we once had. Who knows, maybe that All-star ends up being Kanter or Burks. But the expectation is on Favors.

More after the jump

How Does He Fit?

It's impossible to watch Derrick Favors play basketball and not get excited if you're a Jazz fan. He is arguably the biggest raw talent the Jazz have ever had, including Karl Malone. Before you come to my townhouse with pitchforks and torches, I am not saying that Derrick Favors is going to be better than the Mailman. I am just saying that most of what made Karl Malone the greatest, was his work ethic, his longevity, and his consistency. But if you watched highlights and film of both of them during their rookie seasons and didn't know any better, you could predict that Derrick Favors would have the better overall career and not be crazy. If you look at their per-36 minute statistics from their rookie years, their production is really similar. The main difference is that Malone played 30 minutes a night and got 14 shots a game. Favors got 20 and 6 respectively. The scary thing is that for all intents and purposes, Derrick Favors hasn't even figured out how to play offense yet. When you say that a guy hasn't even tapped into his potential, you are talking about a guy like Favors, who with a little "know-how" and some improvement in free throw shooting, and of course, some playing time and touches, could be putting up all-star numbers no later than next season. With all the discussion the other night about who got the better deal for their point guard out of the New Orleans and Utah trades, I figure that we won't really know the answer until we see what all the draft picks turn into. But right now, today, I am confident in saying that Derrick Favors will ultimately be the best player of all the players that came to New Orleans or Utah. And I think Eric Gordon is a fantastic player.

I won't speak too much more on Favors' potential. I'll let Yuccaman put stars in your eyes. But there is validity to all the hopes that are up that Favors will be something special. I loved him as an NBA prospect long before he was ever on the Jazz radar, so at least, I am not looking at him with Jazz-colored glasses. His fit with the Jazz is a no-brainer. He's here for as long as we can convince him to stay. Whether the Jazz will be offering him a max contract or a near max contract in two years, is really up to him. I tease Jazz fans for getting carried away with their hopes and dreams and be way too optimistic about their teams players and chances, but with Derrick Favors, I will let it slide. Dream away. He's going to be special.


Hopes, Dreams, and Deepest Fears

The sure thing.

Of all the young guys we hope turn out well, Derrick Favors is the closest we have to a sure thing. And that is why, despite the pleas from a few noisy, obnoxious, aggravating fans, nobody is really ready to turn the team over to them. Because Derrick Favors is the surest thing of the bunch, and he didn't exactly have a Blake Griffin season.

Despite all the potential, despite all the hopes, despite all the possibility, there is so much to still find out about these guys. There is so much they have to prove.

Derrick Favors's rookie stats eerily resemble those of Kevin Garnett, Dwight Howard, and even Paul Millsap. Despite being a raw teenager and the fifth or sixth option on offense, he shot and scored at a very decent rate. He rebounds, he gets steals, he blocks shots, and he doesn't turn the ball over much.

But it's when you include the non-statistics that we go bonkers: he's big, fast, athletic, quick, jumps, has long arms and good defensive instincts. Oh, and he may have grown a bit since last year, too. When was the last time we had a guy with his potential, with his athleticism and size and also played great defense?

The answer is this: never.

Now add that kind of defense and athleticism to how his offensive game can progress. I don't care if his offensive ceiling is that of Millsap or Garnett-we're talking about a guy with potential to be truly great. A game-changer on both ends. And let's be honest: it's pretty safe to expect him to become this type of player within a year or two. Maybe even this year. It's not unreasonable.

But there is a worry. One thing that could kill him: fouls. He fouled the hell out of opponents last year.

And so there is still a lot of hope. We hope he gets his minutes. We hope he can stay on the court. We hope the change in defensive philosophy can help cut the fouls down. We hope nothing gets in the way of what ought to be a pretty sure thing.

Because sure things have fallen apart in the past. You never really know.

And so, Derrick Favors, you're the focal point of the future. You're the reason we believe the Jazz have a fairly certain good future, and not just a possibly good one.

Jon Midget, aka Yucca