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Don’t trade Derrick Favors: A plea from a Utah Jazz fan

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It makes little sense, not with the market; and not with how good he’s still going to be.

Dallas Mavericks v Utah Jazz
Home jersey picture. Because Utah is his home.
Photo by George Frey/Getty Images

I love Derrick Favors. And I don’t think that the Utah Jazz have to trade him. In fact, if Favors was traded one of my favorite players on the team would be going away. And as a fan, a subjective fan, that would be unpleasant and unfortunate. I understand the financials. I understand the NBA Trends for more three point shooters. I understand all the guys on the team who are in contract years. And I understand how the Jazz would want to avoid being a team paying the luxury tax until it became absolutely unavoidable.

So, there’s a lot of understanding here. But more than that – better than that – there’s feeling. And my feeling is to a) trust in Dennis Lindsey, and b) stand with Favors.

If you look at what he can bring to the team with his size, versatility, clutch play, two-way ability, and personality you would see that trading him away would be unpleasant and unfortunate for more than just the fans – but also for this team and their aspirations.

NBA: Los Angeles Lakers at Utah Jazz Jeff Swinger-USA TODAY Sports

Favors was the 3rd pick in the 2010 NBA Draft. He was selected by the New Jersey Nets; and some say that the bigman was taken Top 3 not just because he was a teenager oozing with talent, but also because the ‘more talented’ DeMarcus Cousins would bring off-the-court headaches that no one wanted to take on. (Fast forward to 2017 and we see the team that drafted Cousins traded him away for peanuts because he was, as reported, a headache.) We can’t put Favors in a non-Cousins vacuum even if we tried as similar players in draft classes will always be linked. But the Nets traded Favors to the Jazz in his rookie year without seeing what he could be. The Sacramento Kings traded Boogie to the New Orleans Pelicans after seeing what he became.

NBA: Atlanta Hawks at Sacramento Kings Ed Szczepanski-USA TODAY Sports

So there’s always that.

Utah wanted Favors. And he joined a crowded frontcourt that starred Al Jefferson and Paul Millsap that also featured Andrei Kirilenko, Jeremy Evans, Francisco Elson, Kyrylo Fesenko, and Marcus Cousin. (Mehmet Okur was traded to the Portland Trail Blazers during the season, but two months before Favors got there, FYI.) Years later, Favors is the only guy left. And there’s a big reason for that.

Utah Jazz v Los Angeles Lakers Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

Favors was young and full of potential. Picking him at #3 wasn’t a problem, and trading for him as the principal piece in the Deron Williams move wasn’t crazy either. I think people underestimate his youth, as today in 2017 he’s still three or four years away from his physical peak, and some of his best years are still ahead of him. He’s 25.

Here’s a list of guys older than him that you may think are younger than Favs: Mirza Teletovic (31), Anthony Tolliver (31), Aron Baynes (30), Timofey Mozgov (30), Jordan Hill (29), James Johnson (29), Boban Marjanovic (28), Miles Plumlee (28), Thaddeus Young (28), Ed Davis (27), Gorgui Dieng (27), Kenneth Faried (27), Blake Griffin (27), Markieff Morris (27), Marcus Morris (27), Patrick Patterson (27), Hassan Whiteside (27),Tyler Zeller (27), DeMarcus Cousins (26), Draymond Green (26), John Henson (26), Greg Monroe (26), Donatas Motiejunas (26), Mason Plumlee (26), Nikola Vucevic (26), and Jeff Withey (26).

I’m going to say that again, Favors is 25 years old. He’s only 348 days older than Rudy Gobert (24). Rodney Hood is 24. As a frame of reference, rookie bigman Joel Bolomboy is 23. Re-read this paragraph. Now re-read it again.

NBA: Utah Jazz at Dallas Mavericks Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

Favors is still ridiculously young. So even if you are building this team around either the George Hill (30) and Gordon Hayward (26) group or the Dante Exum (21) and Trey Lyles (21) group you find Favs able to be in either of those two peaks.

And beyond being young, Favors isn’t lazy. He’s improving. We’ve seen the transformation of Gordon Hayward from skinny kid with floppy bangs to Mr.Steal-yo-girl. We’ve seen Rudy Gobert shy away from getting fouled to being a guy who isn’t afraid to take crunch time free throws. These are massive changes and easy to see. Favors didn’t have to drastically sculpt his body. And Favors didn’t have a weakness to his game that created such a strategic problem for his own team. Favors’ improvements have been more incremental but no less meaningful.

Let’s also not delude ourselves into thinking that he had the keys thrown to him early in his career like Gordon Hayward did. Favors didn’t become a regular starter for the Jazz until fourth season in the NBA. (Hayward started 58/66 in his second year)

Basketball-Reference.com, AllThatAmar

N.B. The minutes by season values show an even greater skew -- this just shows the change in average from season to season to season. Favors Nets’ minutes as a rookie were a nice boost, but he hasn’t quite reached the average that G-Time has played per season. They were both lotto picks in the 2010 NBA Draft.

Most of the younger players were Corb’d, for certain. But Favors was grounded early and as a result some of his peers like Cousins looked oh so much better. (In addition to big minutes, the Kings also played at a faster pace, Cousins got more stats, but very few wins.) Despite the arrested development for Favors, it’s clear that he has put in the work and developed.

Derrick Favors’ All-Around Game has continued to blossom to the point where he’s taking and making more jumpers and with ease. Offensively he may not yet be at that Karl Malone / Carlos Boozer level on the pick and pop. But there’s nothing to say that he’s not going to continue extending his range out to three. After all – he did hit that big one to help the team get that win against the Timberwolves a little while back. He’s not a three point thread today, but he is shooting .250 from there in 2016-2017. Boris Diaw is shooting .263 this season from three as a point of direct comparison. Trey Lyles is at .323.

But it’s not just about trying to shoe-horn Favors into Quin Snyder’s offense that needs three point shooting. Let’s not forget that Quin Snyder’s tough defense (the Jazz’ calling card) still relies upon length, switching, and the ability for everyone to play help defense and challenge shots. Rudy Gobert may be the anchor to the defense, but Favors is a very heavy rock. In fact, when those two bigs are in the game the other team is stuck between a rock and a hard place.

NBA: Utah Jazz at Memphis Grizzlies Justin Ford-USA TODAY Sports

Or Scylla and Charybdis.

And I don’t know if getting away from the defensive calling card for some hope at making a more dynamic offense is the right move. I doubt Dennis Lindsey feels that way either. Just take a look at what bigmen are moving this year. The Philadelphia 76ers just moved Nerlens Noel to the Dallas Mavericks for . . . what exactly?

Andrew Bogut (whom they will cut if they can’t trade), a protected first rounder (1st - 18th), and two cheap trade exceptions. And they had to part with Justin Anderson to do it, and he was a glue guy for Rick Carlisle.

Noel is 22 and very raw. And Philly got nothing for him. The trade market right now is one where there’s nothing Utah would have gotten that would be better today - or tomorrow - than Favors.

And that’s not just the fan in my talking. Sure, if you play 2K as your source of info on the NBA you may be sour on Derrick. He is averaging just 9.2 ppg, 6.1 rpg, and 0.8 bpg so far this season. But there are a lot of reasons for those low numbers. The Jazz are a) managing his minutes, b) because he’s playing hurt. On a team that doesn’t always show the heart we know they have he’s been a soldier accepting a change in role and focus, and still doing his best.

There are some things ‘per game’ averages don’t tell. For one, this season he has his career lowest DRTG, meaning his best on court defensive presence. His ability to start at power forward and be the back-up center means he has to be good at about 18 different things on the court. And he has shown us a lot of flashes of being not just good at those things, but great. In fact, if you factor in his age and work ethic it’s still possible that he becomes one of the best forwards in the NBA still.

His DRB% is higher than it’s been in years (last time it was higher than this year was back when he was 22). He’s never been better at stealing the ball. And yes, he’s not blocking a lot of shots right now, but he’s not getting the lift he usually does. And that’s really the bottom line. A healthy Favors makes Utah a team that’s a threat to make the Western Conference Finals.

And here’s the thing — is Favors going to be healthy sometime in the next three years (while the Spurs and Warriors and Clippers are all on the down-slope of their core abilities?): yes. And in those three years, as he approaches his peak — is he going to be better than he is today? Yes. (And I’m not the only one who thinks that.)

After all, Karl Malone was more than willing to go on the record to talk about how great Favors could be. Favors himself was taken back by The Mailman saying that he ‘loved him.’ (Check the Archives at Moni’s site.)

Gobert can be a 20/10 guy when you drive and dump it off to him or off of rebounds/put backs. Favors and be a 20/10 guy by posting him up or finding him in transition. This team is going to need both if they are going to punch weaker teams in the face. And with how teams are focusing in on Gobert right now he’ll surely need someone to get his back. Favors is that guy.

NBA: Detroit Pistons at Utah Jazz Jeff Swinger-USA TODAY Sports

It seems like the Jazz know this as well. Thankfully.

And seriously? Why would you ever trade Favors? He took a hometown discount to live in Utah and play here. He has cute puppies and twins! He is remarkably Jazzy.

Also:

I could go over a million stats and quotes and reasons why to keep him in a Utah Jazz jersey. Ideas of loyalty, the market, offensive cohesion, chemistry, I could go anywhere with this argument to keep him. I don’t need to. Favors is exactly what this team needs. And they already have him.

Do yourself a favor Jazz, keep working on getting Derrick Favors healthy for the NBA Playoffs!