Utah Jazz power forward Derrick Favors will make his season debut on Friday night on the road against the Los Angeles Lakers, but he will come off the bench and will carry a minutes restriction along with him. Favors missed the team’s season opener on Tuesday against the Portland Trail Blazers with a knee injury that kept him out much of the preseason.
Through his first six years in the league, Favors has steadily increased his scoring average. He topped out last season at 16.4 points and 8.1 rebounds per game, averaging a career-high 32 minutes per game for Utah. But he played in just 62 games (starting 59 of them) due to injury.
Once rated as the top prospect in his 2009 high basketball recruiting class over John Wall (No. 2), DeMarcus Cousins (No. 3) and Kawhi Leonard (No. 48), Favors played his lone season of college hoops at Georgia Tech before entering the draft as a 19-year-old. He was taken with the third overall pick by the New Jersey Nets in the 2010 NBA Draft, who moved him to Utah after just 56 games as part of a package in exchange for point guard Deron Williams.
The last time the Jazz made the playoffs in 2011-12, Favors started just nine games for the team that season. He played in four playoff games and nearly averaged a double-double. This year, the 2016-17 installment of the Jazz seems to have the best chance on paper of returning to the playoffs of any team since then. Near the heart of it is Favors, who is coming off career-highs in free throw percentage, assists and steals per game, as well as points, and he has averaged over eight rebounds per game each of the last three seasons.