Derrick Favors had an amazing season for someone who played the majority of his minutes at the backup center position. While Rudy Gobert gets a lot of the press—and rightfully so—Derrick Favors flipped the narrative that Utah should trade him upside down. Many times this season, Favors was the best big man on the floor for either team. He destroyed bench units, proved he could guard slippery PFs and Cs, and made many of us non-believers wonder if it would be better to keep him next season.
It wasn’t just fans and us lay media who had changed our minds. It was the Utah Jazz front office as well.
“Derrick Favors isn’t part of the problem,” said Dennis Lindsey said of Derrick Favors during locker room clean out. “He’s part of the solution.”
That’s pretty impressive considering that Derrick Favors contract was designed with the idea of being highly tradable and has a team option for the second year that doesn’t have to be guaranteed until July 6th. Favors contract works as both the bait on the hook for an impactful trade and a backup plan if Utah strikes out on a high profile free agent. Derrick Favors definitely was not part of the problem for Utah this past season as he was regularly one of the most consistent players out there on the court.
While Derrick Favors only averaged 11.8 points, 7.8 rebounds, and 1.4 blocks a game this season, he did that in only 23.2 points per game. Boost that to PER36 numbers and Favors is averaging 18.3 points, 11.4 rebounds, and 2.2 blocks per game. He was an absolute beast. Those numbers easily place him in the best 10 centers in the league.
Derrick Favors also played in 70 or more games for the second season in a row. The last time he played in 70 or more games in consecutive seasons was 2012-2015. Favors had fought through numerous injuries prior to 2017-2018 season.
Derrick Favors also proved to be a valuable piece in the playoffs. While Rudy Gobert’s defense has become more impactful and allowed him to stay on the floor for most of the game in the playoffs, it was Derrick Favors who has seen a lot of time finishing games in the last three years in the playoffs. His offense and ability to finish at the rim in heavy traffic make him a valuable player in late game situations.
Quin Snyder, on Derrick Favors' effort: "He’s just looking for different ways to impact the game. If he can’t do one, he’s not shutting down and saying, ‘Well, this isn’t going’ — he’s finding something else he can do to help the team." pic.twitter.com/UyPbuPX4NL— Eric Walden (@tribjazz) March 17, 2019
More than raw stats and playing in games, Derrick Favors has displayed a level of maturity that is unique for someone hitting the prime of their career and being asked to take a lesser role on their team. Favors has been playing his best ball over the course of this season and in turn Utah has asked him to play even less minutes a game than last year. Favors averaged 23.2 minutes per game which is his lowest mark since the 2012-2013 season when he shared the roster with other big men like Enes Kanter, Al Jefferson, Marvin Williams, and Paul Millsap.
While it is true that Derrick Favors is being more than compensated for becoming more of a backup center than starting power forward—signed a 2 year/$37 million dollar contract last summer—it still requires an insane amount of buy in to be assured that he’s securing that bag in his prime years.
“Yeah, I can do a little bit of everything. I don’t want to get categorized in just one aspect because I can’t shoot a 3-pointer at a high level,” Favors said. “I can do a lot of things — I can rebound, I can score, defend. Most of the time, on this team, I do a lot of stuff guys don’t want to do. That’s my role. … Some people call it garbage work; you can call it whatever you want to call it — I take pride in it.”
Dennis Lindsey was completely right about Derrick Favors, he was not the problem this past season, he was the solution.
Outlook for 2019-2020
He was the solution because he needed to be the solution. After the trade deadline, it was look in the mirror time for the Utah Jazz. They pulled it together and had their second annual playoff push as they capitalized on an easier schedule. They worked with what they had. Utah’s ability to have a top 10 center on the floor at all times was an amazing advantage in the regular season. Utah’s problem was not the center spot, it was their perimeter players inability to hit open shots at the perimeter that hurt them. That was never more on display than in the playoffs against Houston.
So that means Utah will keep Favors, right?
Not necessarily. The tricky thing with Favors is his production is valuable, but is it $17 million for only 23 minutes a game valuable? Utah purposefully designed Favors contract in a way so that they could flirt with potential free agents in the summer of 2019. It was also designed to be highly tradable which could allow Utah to part with him before the draft for the right piece.
Utah would only part with Derrick Favors if they’re able to get greater value in return. Utah can only play Favors 23-25 minutes a game unless they diminish other players productivity—Donovan Mitchell and Rudy Gobert, specifically. If the stars align and Utah has a trade lined up at the draft, they can guarantee Favors contract and ship him out. If they get really lucky and have a big name free agent like Kemba Walker or Tobias Harris want to sign in Utah, they can refuse to guarantee Favors contract and let him go into free agency, or even work out a sign and trade using Favors.
If those fail, Utah has a great backup plan in Derrick Favors. Bringing Favors back isn’t bad at all seeing as Utah knows that they are a 50 win team with him onboard. It seems cliche to say, but Dennis Lindsey isn’t going to part with a known 50 win team unless the chance of having a better team is almost guaranteed. Having Kemba Walker, Mike Conley, or Tobias Harris would definitely raise Utah’s ceiling and make the loss of Derrick Favors palatable.
Derrick Favors has the character, the production, and basketball DNA to be a Jazz player for life, his only problem is there’s someone who shares that same combination playing at the same position as him. Which is why Derrick Favors was never the problem during the season, and this offseason Derrick Favors could once again be the solution to taking Utah to another level whether it’s through a trade of his contract, the cap space vacated from him leaving, or him staying on the team and continuing as a super sub.