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Utah Jazz Tank Oddity: Is Derrick Favors regressing on offense?


Okay, in a world where the team isn't going to be graded upon wins or losses, the Utah Jazz exist in a special place. A place where, well, it really isn't if you win or lose, but precisely how you play the game. Following along, the Jazz need to evaluate all parts of their system, from their coaches, to their starters, to their support. One of the starters many Jazz fans are highly invested in is Derrick Favors. The forward/center is a potential defensive juggernaut who is unfortunately appears less capable on offense than we would wish for. While he finished last game with 17 points, 13 rebounds, and three blocks (and is averaging a double double as a 22 year old) some individuals worry about his offense.

Specifically, is Derrick Favors regressing on offense?

I don't know. I did see a number of curious rebounds go out of his hands in the fourth quarter of the last game (to make sure we lose possession of the ball, and the Denver Nuggets had enough opportunities to seal the proverbial deal -- now that's a tank oddity if that's actually what happened). But I did not think he was specifically regressing on offense. He's scoring a career high 13.1 ppg and while his shooting is less efficient, it could just be a product of a slump. After all, while 8 games is nearly 10% of the season, it's still n = 8, which is a very low sample size.

So let's break down Favors' on offense.


Hmmm, if you look at the green things vs the red things (green being good), Favors is only really good this year at playing minutes, and shooting the most and scoring the most. He's much less efficient across the board in points per possession (PPP), points per minute (PPM), and points per shot (PPS). But that alone does not tell the whole tale.

Favors is doing it off of post ups and off of offensive rebounds, which is precisely what he did as a rookie. His spot up shooting is a little shaky so far this season, but one presumes that would improve when floor spacing does. The issues we do see in his points per possession data based on those five locations is that he's not as successful off of cuts and his pick and roll game is down in the dumps.

It does look like his offense HAS regressed based upon efficiency. His shooting percentages are much lower than they should be, and even though he's scoring the most of his career, he is going to be a better scorer than a bigman who shoots 44 fg%. (That's like Kyrylo Fesenko at the free throw line bad.) But offense is more than just scoring, right?

For a bigman two major parts of being a part of an offense is how well they screen for their teammates, and then, how well they see the whole floor. Sadly, or mercifully, I don't have any data on screens set or attempted. But I am close to throwing the book at our bigmen for their poor screening fundamentals. So I will have to look at the other major part of offense, which is passing.

And here is where Derrick Favors is beginning to really shine. While I did a whole post on passing here, I focused on Gordon Hayward, Alec Burks, and John Lucas III. If I had more time I would have looked at the crazy stuff Favors was doing with the ball.

Did you know that Derrick Favors actually leads the team in total passes per game, at 58.7 passes? (Data take from our first 7 games, so it's not as up to date with adjusted numbers from Monday's game against the Denver Nuggets) Favors passes the ball more per game than every other player in the game, and that means our three primary ball handlers in Hayward, Burks, and Lucas III. That is particularly amazing because Favors only has the ball in his hands for 1.6 total minutes on average during the game (and he plays 33.9 mpg, so he has the ball only 4.7% of his time on the floor). Lucas has the ball for 3.9 minutes on average, 14.2% of his time on the floor. Hayward has the ball for 3.3 mpg on average, 9.2% of his time on the floor. And Burks has the ball for 3.1 mpg on average, 10.9% of his time on the floor.

Favors is a more frequent passer than our ball handlers are.

When Derrick gets the ball in the post he's looking for options on offense, and helps facilitates the offense. He is averaging 2.0 apg this season, and his assist completion % (the number of assists he gets divided by all of his assist attempts per game) is 58.8%. The only people who scored better were Ian Clark and Brandon Rush and their values are based upon playing in three games total.

When Favors dishes the ball, he's doing it with purpose. When you extrapolate it beyond his Assist Completion % and include things like hockey assists or passing to a guy who gets free throws Favor's AC' % goes up to 79.4%.

For a direct point of comparison the AC% and AC' % for the following players are all much lower:

  • John Lucas III: 36.8% / 70.2%
  • Gordon Hayward: 41.2% / 64.0%
  • Alec Burks: 36.6% / 50.7%

Favors' 58.8% / 79.4% is off the charts, and he's doing it as a bigman. His assists to turn over ratio is only worse than Lucas, Jamaal Tinsley, Hayward, Burks, and Ian Clark 's. So yes, his assist to turn over ratio, as a bigman, is better than all of our small forwards. This season he accounts for 10% of all the assists the team gets when he's on the floor.



These are numbers that are much better than his earlier career.

So, we have a guy who is scoring, screening, and passing. He is shooting more than ever before, scoring better than he ever has; but at the cost of being less efficient. His screening is something I do not have data for. But his passing is much better than ever, and he's one of the passing leaders on this team. I guess it just depends on what matters more to you; a guy who is able to go one on one and play in some sort of Alfesne, or a guy who is looking for his teammates and sharing the ball while trying to run an offense.

Scoring down. Passing up.

Has he regressed? Or is he just playing a different game on offense in a year where we're trying to develop different talents and/or tank? I don't know.