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Utah Jazz bigman Derrick Favors is the heart and soul of this team, but he needs help - Downbeat #1672

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Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

We messed up and there wasn't a Downbeat yesterday. This is all my fault, so I am pulling a Tracy McGrady here.("It's on me.") As a consequence, there's going to be a lot of content on the site today -- it's a game day after all -- but I am certain that you rabid Utah Jazz fans will not be upset. There's a lot to look over, so let's get to it!

First of all, in a Utah Jazz world where Rudy Gobert cannot play in games we get a chance to see just what our front court rotation is like. Derrick Favors is, frankly, our best player. Some saw it early, most of us only saw glimpses. But right now he's the heart and soul of this team. Now, the fruits of his loins didn't get the Lion King treatment that Bernadette did, but that's fine. He also bought a house in Utah, not on a Tennis Court country club in California, but hey. Marketing is a tricky thing. (Jazz fans in Australia can't even get Jazz gear, despite there being two Aussies on the team. But again, Marketing is a tricky thing and we can never, EVER criticize the award winning marketing department of the Utah Jazz. #WeAreAGlobalBrand #WeAreUtah!) But back to Favors, who is sadly under-appreciated even on his own team.

He's one of the quietest #3 picks in recent history, and was so under-rated that in his sixth season in the NBA national writers and fans all over are just re-discovering him. SB Nation's Jesus Gomez (of Pounding The Rock) broke down his work against the Miami Heat here. Read it.

The former third overall pick finished the game with 25 points, 12 rebounds, two assists, three steals and seven blocks. He almost singlehandedly allowed the shorthanded Jazz to push the Heat.

Favors got the start at center and dominated on both ends. He forced Whiteside into a 4-for-10 night, using his length to disrupt his post up attempts and block two of his shots. Bosh finished with 25 points, but he did a lot of his damage against the overmatched Trey Lyles and scored 11 of those in the eight minutes Favors was resting.

Favors only got a crack at guarding the two-time NBA champion for a short stretch. In that time, he showed off his quickness with a beautiful recovery that not many players his size could make.

- Jesus Gomez, SB Nation, 2015

He also describes Favors in the binary mode of being with Rudy and without. Obviously the stats are better without Rudy, but that can be said about every bigman group that has talent. I'm sure Kevin McHale would have scored more points if he wasn't playing with Larry Bird and Robert Parish too.

I don't know if Favors is a true center or a true power forward. He's 6'10, but has played a lot of center. He has a power forward's game, for the 1980s and 1990s. By today's standards he doesn't have the stretch ability or offensive mobility to be a power forward, but he's not over seven feet tall. I guess this is why I default to calling him, simply, a 'bigman'.



Favors is under-rated. He is also under-appreciated. But all of his talents really help shine a spotlight on what else is happening behind him.

I do not think that Trevor Booker, for all of his energy and enthusiasm, is a legit 3rd big on a championship contender. A 4th big? Maybe. A 5th big? He would be a great 5th big, a change up guy who can hustle and get a crowd on his side and rally a team. But he's only 6'8 (actually 6'7 according to DraftExpress), and his size really hurts him on the defensive end. Booker is lovely at what he does, and every team needs a Booker-type player. But I don't think a great team needs him for over 20 mpg.

Booker may very well be the 3rd big by default as the only other bigs on the team are Trey Lyles, Jack Withey, and Tibor Pleiss.

Tibor is a 26 year old rookie who stands at 7'3. He's a center, through and through, but right now he's not that impressive. He turns the ball over 20% of the time he's on the court, and gets only 4.3% of the available rebounds. As a point of direct comparison, back-up point guard Trey Burke gets 5.3% of the available rebounds. Every other bigman on the roster is at about 14% or above.

I think Tibor can get better, he can't get worse. However, despite my better judgement, I still thought this guy could be a "Joe Ingles" type of rookie. A veteran rookie. He's not. My sources in EuroLeague told me Tibor wasn't that good. The concept of adding Trevor Mbakwe as a free agent or via trade to the FC Barca line-up was seen as a significant upgrade over what Tibor brought to the table.

Do you want to send your 26 year old dude, who has played in Europe for years, over to the NBADL? This is not the same thing as Kyrylo Fesenko. Fesenko was 21 years old in his rookie year with the Jazz. He was able to get better by playing anywhere. Can Tibor catch up to the NBA's speed by playing in the NBADL? We may find out after this road trip, contingent upon Gobert's health.

The other rookie big is Trey Lyles. Lyles just turned 20 this month. He's young. He left college early. He has NBA skills, but just isn't ready yet. The NBADL could be helpful to him, but Quin Snyder is serious about development. And he knows that getting your time in the NBA is more meaningful. After all, this is still a developmental year for this team (Gobert's 3rd year, effectively Alec Burks' 3rd as well). Once Trey gets comfortable at this level I think we'll see him play a little better. But like his rookie teammate, he's not ready to be a 3rd big right now.

This leaves Withey. And Withey is a very solid 4th big. He's a bigman who can block shots and get rebounds. He's also adept at finishing around the basket and he makes his free throws. The 7' footer isn't as good as he's going to eventually become, but he's not really as young as some of the other prospects. He's in his 3rd season, but he's already 25. I'm not going to expect him to be a late bloomer like George McCloud (who became a legit NBA player and occasional starter in his seventh pro season).

In a situation where there are injuries, like now, the Jazz' lack of depth really comes into focus. And no, this isn't me being a "Negative Nancy" or a grouch. Over the last nine games these guys have played 285 total minutes. In that span they have made 56 points, grabbed 69 rebounds, and blocked 9 shots. Their true, combined average performance is 6.2 ppg, 7.7 rpg, 1.0 bpg in 31.7 mpg. A LOT OF THAT IS Withey's last game.

If you remove Withey from the equation -- as Quin Snyder did for the vast majority of this season -- the averages plummet to 5.3 ppg, 6.9 rpg, and 0.8 bpg. Okay, so this shows both how little he has played, and how much of an actual impact he has had. (That said, his seven boards are a lot more than Tibor's one rebound.)

Worse still than the raw numbers are the shooting results. This team is shooting 26/84 this season, which is 31.0 fg%. Booker has gone 1/6 from downtown, and Lyles 1/5. Keep shooting guys. Even the threat of floor spacing is better than standing there with the ball in your hands like a confused Jarron Collins. Sometimes we get the rebound back too.

But the bottom line is that in November, 2015 our 3rd best big is Trevor Booker. And while he is limited, he's the only man for the job.



In other Derrick Favors news, this is fantastic:

Love these guys.



I don't know when is the right time to point out that Bryon Russell 's son is going out with a mini-Beyonce.

Alasia's Winter Formal...... My boy is cleannnn. Get it B!!! @brusstsb #BrandonRussell @recklesslay

A photo posted by Kimberli Peters-Russell (@kimberlirussell) on

(Previously, we found out that Karl Malone 's son went to prom with B-Russ's daughter.)



Before there was a Utah Jazz, and even before there was a New Orleans Jazz . . . there were the Utah Stars. (And before that, the LA Stars, and before that the Anaheim Amigos, but whatever...) The Stars played at the old Salt Palace, and as everyone knows, were the only Utah basketball team to bring home a professional title. They did it in 1971.It's funny, because you don't ever see the Utah Jazz people ever mention that such a thing ever happened. (Beyond having Ron Boone be part of the Jazz organization.)

Basketball John found this:

Sadly, not ever going to happen. The didn't care about the 40th anniversary of the Jazz franchise (back when I tried to complete my #40for40 series). The only thing that matters is everything after 1979. #WeAreUtah

But I bet Jazz fans would buy these jerseys if they were sold in Fanzz stores. Hey, they might even buy them in Australia, oh wait. Sorry. My bad. I mean South, south, south, south, south Utah! (There, solved it!)