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Is Derrick Favors’ injury history an obstacle towards extending his contract?

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I’m scared, someone hold me.

NBA: Utah Jazz at Miami Heat Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

I’m worried, guys.

There are signs of things with Derrick that are hard to watch. The back spasms, the IT band and now the sore knee...

I’m having flashbacks to being eighteen when things started getting a little sparse up top. Just after graduating from High School, I saw the signs of a future without hair. My first reaction was denial. Bald? Like my dad? That’s what happens to old men. I’ll have hair forever, flowing locks that would mask the portly frame and underwhelming jawline!

And then an older gentlemen told me “when it’s done falling out, comb-overs don’t work very well.” There is no emoji that can fully express the scar that sentence left on my soul.

I am now bald ... and fat ... the latter is completely unrelated to the first, but you should feel bad for me, okay!

The feelings I felt then, the signs, the anxiety are all there with Derrick and I don’t know what to think. I love Derrick. He was the consolation prize after the painful retirement of our beloved Jerry Sloan and the trade of a superstar who was likely to leave for a “better” market. A loving father of two beautiful little girls, Derrick is everything you want in a Utah Jazz man on top of his incredible talent. He’s embraced the community, not just with charity work and community events, he lives here. Like, he legitimately lives here in the off season. He goes to Lagoon, he goes to the Zoo, sometimes you’ll see him walking around the store. This is a community that routinely gets ridiculed and misunderstood with unfair stigmas that seem impossible to overcome, and Derrick has loved us and we love him.

That’s why seeing the mounting injuries is extra scary. Are we facing a future where Derrick Favors might not be with the Jazz?

To help figure this out I looked at some of the research with power forwards in the league. What is the typical size of a power forward in the league.

Business Insider put out an article, in 2014, about the average size of athletes in every sport. Here’s the most relevant chart from the article...

If you can’t see, go to the link above, but the average power forward in the NBA is about 6’9” and weighs about 240 pounds. Derrick Favors is, according to basketball reference, 6’10” and weighs 265. I don’t know if that is completely accurate (because I’ve heard David Locke talk about him weighing upwards of 280 even...) but we’ll just assume that 265 is where he’s at. That makes Derrick about 25 pounds heavier and an inch taller than the average power forward.

That brings up another question, do we still call them that? With the modern style of basketball, there are so many different things to call players at the four position on the court, stretch four, play-making four, point forward to name a few. Is Derrick one of the last true power forwards?

So much of his game is based on overpowering other players and using his athleticism. When he’s healthy and playing well, he’s dominant. You see this in his ability to get offensive rebounds, hold position against players in the post and his strength at finishing at the rim. His combination of strength and athleticism is nearly unmatched in the league, but can he keep up with the other more typical fours in the league?

I created a list of probably the top 20 power forwards and what they bring to the game and then listed their height, weight and total injuries that have made them miss games (h/t prosportstransactions). Here they are listed by tallest players...

Power Forwards listed by height

and here they are listed by weight...

Power Forwards Listed by Weight

Derrick is both one of the tallest, but also the heaviest of the power forwards in the league. I was surprised that he has a higher listed weight than Zach Randolph. Because Derrick has to guard so many perimeter guys, and you consider his size, it’s no wonder he has had so many injuries from moving on the perimeter. And that brings us to the final thing I was interested in tracking, injury rate.

I watch every Jazz game, a lot of them twice. Like you guys, I am glued into our players and what they’re going through. I wanted to make sure that wasn’t clouding me from the possibility that it might be normal and other players go through similar situations.

These are very simple calculations with a lot of noise, but I thought a simple graph showing the total individual injuries that cause players to miss games compared to their games started was an interesting metric. What I saw confirmed somewhat what I was expecting.

Here is the list showing the injuries per game started and who leads the league...

Power Forwards Injuries per game

The idea for this chart is to show how many games a player will start before they miss a game(s) due to injury. Up till now, Favors will miss a game due to injury every 28 games, 5th worst among power forwards.

I’m nervous guys. There isn’t enough sample size to say Kristaps is injury prone and the three guys worse than favs are just slightly worse except for Anthony Davis. Holy cow, Anthony Davis is injury prone.

One of my favorite points I’ve heard from multiple football analysts is that avoiding injuries is a skill. It’s something some players can learn and some never do. Steph Curry is a perfect example. Remember when we were wondering if Steph would retire because of his ankles? It’s something he fixed and overcame. Can Favors do the same? Curry worked on the way he cut, his gait and movement, but Favors’ injuries are more of the wear and tear variety with things like sore knees, sore back and IT band injuries. It’s become a pattern, and a scary one. It’s my opinion that there’s no way Favors can maintain his size and stay healthy, it’s too hard on his body. It’s one thing to turn an ankle, it’s another to wear out your legs from the pounding of a too heavy frame.

Right now, I’m finishing this up after a loss to the Bulls. Nothing is more frustrating than seeing an offensive rebound lead to a loss. We all are yelling, “But if Favors was there!” But that’s the problem, more and more we see an injury report filled with DNPs. I want Derrick to be healthy so bad, but I don’t know if that’s even realistic.

The Jazz have a lot of hard decisions coming with contracts and extensions, especially with George Hill and how well he’s played. These last two season have shown us that injuries can derail a season. I’m scared to death of maxing Favs and then miss lots of future rebounds because he was on the bench with DNPs. Is it better to give those minutes to Lyles who’s shown to have the size and frame of a four that more fits the modern NBA? I don’t know. If Favors can drop to between 240 and 250 pounds then I think he’d be okay. But can he do that? And does that take away his advantage of strength and athleticism?

I’m scared, guys, and I don’t envy Dennis Lindsey and the decisions he has to make in the near future. But, I ended up just cutting off all the hair and figured it out. Hopefully Favors, and the Jazz, can figure it out too.