Preseason Expectations: It depends. Favors as the third overall pick in the 2010 NBA Draft represented hope for the Nets. However, would that hope come to fruition sooner or later? There was a muted sort of expectation for Favors as he was the youngest player in the NBA (he doesn’t turn 20-years-old until July), but because of his physical ability on the court and the ubiquitous impatience of sports fandom, many wanted him to succeed quickly. However, after being at the 2010 draft and watching his mannerisms at Favors’ press conference, I knew things were going to be slow to develop for him. For those of you in the NAS Live Chat that night, I kept harping on how it’s going to take a while for him to get used to playing in the metro New York area. And if anything came to fruition, it was my prediction.
The Good: There is a tangible upside with Favors because of his youth, athleticism, and work ethic. It’s the last part that strikes me about him because while setting picks seems to be the regular for Favors, when he’s not doing that, he’s working hard down in the box establishing post position, but never getting an entry pass, which makes this more impressive. He’s always in the middle of any fights for rebounds, and he has a motor getting up and down the court. Favors is willing to get things done and has the desire to work, which is a big part of succeeding in the NBA.
The Bad: He still has a learning curve and it’s going to be some time for him to pick up little nuances of the game. He seems to have little mental lapses at times – reacting to grabbing a catchable deflection, not keeping his head up for a potential pass as he just instantly tries to get position to grab a rebound thinking a shot is going up, quick inbound passes when defenders are close to the receiver and can pick the ball off, etc. Oh, and getting in foul trouble. A lot. These are all correctable things and can be learned with experience, but because of those flashes of brilliance and seeing how hard he’s working, it’s easy to root hard for Favors to “get it” right away. It’s disappointing when he isn’t.
The Extra: As scouts say, Favors has “upside.” An almost insane amount of it. In fact, so much so that he’s already been compared favorably to Kevin Garnett and Dwight Howard during their rookie seasons. The difference is that they kept themselves in the game to produce while Favors is limiting himself with foul trouble, valid calls or not. While the aforementioned comparisons are great, I think a better comparison would be a young Antonio McDyess during his Denver Nuggets days (please don’t let this be a foreshadowing), who could score, rebound, and block shots, possessing top-notch athleticism and physical tools. But, comparisons don’t mean anything here because Favors has only played 56 games. He just needs to keep on playing, make his mistakes, and hopefully learn from them. However, he does seems to have enough mental fortitude having dealt (and continuing to deal) with the prospect of being traded since the beginning of his NBA career, so it’s very possible Favors will learn and get better.
Final Grade: I personally didn’t expect too much from Favors except to be a motor/dunk/defense guy and he’s basically done that. He needs to improve on the little things and stay out of foul trouble and it would be nice to work on some post moves, but the circumstances aren’t there for him at the moment. Grade: C+