It doesn’t take much to look back at the Derrick Favors trade to know that Utah got it right. Sending a disgruntled, declining point guard in Deron Williams to the New Jersey (now Brooklyn) Nets for Favors, Devin Harris, two future first-round picks and cash in a trade has sung sweet Jazz music since, and Favors’ ascent to under-appreciated superstar is currently undeniable.
The Jazz earned national attention in the second half of last season thanks to the emergence of Rudy Gobert, but Favors’ consistent improvement at both ends of the floor should not fly under the radar. A player who earned a reputation as a staunch defender long before anyone believed in his offensive abilities, Favors has become the best player on a team that includes Gobert and max-contract-man Gordon Hayward. Operating on a four-year, $49 million contract that has become one of the best bargains in the NBA, Favors’ party is very much just getting started.
Before his true breakout season ever started, Favors made it clear what he expected of himself heading into a critical 2015-16 season. The Jazz were on the rise, ready to compete for a playoff spot and the big man knew that it all began with him (via Stefan Bondy, New York Daily News):
“It’s a personal goal for me to be an All-Star. And I think right now, I’ve been put in a position to hopefully make it with a good team, a good coach, an organization and a front office that’s pushing for it,” Favors said. “So I think I have a good chance to make it. But it all depends on me – how I play this year, how bad do I want it.”
Thus far, it looks like Favors is ready to party. Through just 11 games, Favors is averaging 16.0 points, 9.3 rebounds, 2.1 steals and 1.5 blocks on 52.9 percent shooting. Despite playing basically the same amount of time as he did last season (30:15 now compared to 30:48 in 2014-15), Favors is producing more efficiently while handling a bigger role on each side of the ball. The fuel behind Utah’s fire and their 6-5 start to the campaign, Favors’ impressive resume is about to earn him superstar credentials.
“I do feel like it’s different than year’s past because we were a young team, didn’t expect much,” Favors said. “But now – I mean, we’re still pretty young – I’m 24, Gordon is 25. Both of us are in our sixth year. So we’re still young, but we’re veterans now. And I think it’s about that time we took that next step out of the rebuilding phase and make that next step toward the playoffs.”
That’s an incredibly impressive attitude to hold at such a young age, and it certainly helps to explain Favors’ expedited maturation. The Deron-for-Derrick swap has become all about Favors. While D-Will tries to resuscitate his career in Dallas after Brooklyn paid him to go away, Favors is thriving as the star of a Utah team that is a legitimate threat to break through the stacked Western Conference and finally earn that elusive postseason berth. Favors understood what was coming, so he came into this situation prepared way before the season ever started (via Tony Jones, The Salt Lake Tribune).
“I’m getting comfortable, working with different moves,” Favors said. “It’s starting to pay off. A couple of post moves I did in practice I’ve been working on all summer. I was able to do some stuff in the scrimmages, and it’s paying off for me.”
The opportunity has never been clearer; the path to stardom never more illuminated. With a brand new platform to showcase his rapidly evolving game, Derrick Favors is demanding your attention.