NBA Regular Season 2012-2013, Game 13:
Sacramento Kings (3-8) @ Utah Jazz (6-6)
Player Focus: Derrick Favors
Derrick Favors, already banged up with his knee and ankle, took another hit by being selected to come off the bench tonight. Favors is on that "slow development" scale that the Jazz love to put the vast majority of their young players on. (Paul Millsap is the exception to the rule, but he breaks all the rules -- it's not so much "the Jazz play young guys, see Millsap for example", it's more "Millsap is so amazing he even made the Jazz change their tune") With the Jazz, in his rookie year he played 20.2 MPG. In his second year he played 21.2 MPG. This year? This year he's getting a whopping 24.5 MPG.
You get better during the off-season by adding things to your game. But you gain confidence and become reliable by seeing good things happen on the court in real games. Less court time = less chance to build that stored 'bank' of "I belong here" feelings. When Favors plays like he knows he belongs he has been dominant on defense *and* on offense. We saw that behind the back dribble this year for a finger roll finish on the break. Last season we saw his forays into the paint to finish athletic dunks AROUND guys with a set up move. In his rookie year in the few moments he felt like he belonged he did great things as well.
Tonight he's going up against the guy he was picked ahead of: DeMarcus Cousins. Cousins was regarded as the more talented of the two (particularly on offense) but more of a wild card to the stoic Favors. Cousins played 28.5 MPG as a rookie (four more than Favors is getting in his third year), and went above 30 in his second year, and is above 30 this year. He's had a lot more time to be himself out there on the court (for better and for worse). One could argue that he feels more comfortable on the court, and that he knows he belongs. Why wouldn't he, last season he averaged 18.1 ppg and 11.0 rpg. (Point of direct comparison: last year Al Jefferson in the same role with our team scored 19.2 ppg, and pulled down 9.6 rpg as a veteran in his 8th season)
Cousins got the minutes, the touches, and is a big factor for his team. Favors? We hope he can be a 20/10 guy for us, but right now he's a 9 and 8 guy. What's worse, though, is his h2h numbers against Cousins:
- Cousins gets 17.5 / 12.5 / 3.1 / 2.0 / 1.1 in 34.0 mpg
- Favors gets 6.8 / 7.5 / 0.4 / 0/8 / 1.1 in 19.0 mpg
The minutes make a difference, of course, but part of that is based upon the trust (or balls) their coaches have in playing the young guys. Cousins has gotten the call early and often from his head coach. Newly bench Favors? Not exactly.
Favors can make people look dumb if he has a good game tonight. I think he will.