Name: Derrick Favors
Weight: 246 lbs.
Birth Date: July 15, 1991
Birthplace: Atlanta, GA
Drafted: 3rd pick of the 1st Round in 2010 by the New Jersey Nets
Experience: 0 years
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The Nets found themselves trailing the New York Knicks by a point late in a pre-season game and lack of execution on two plays caused their ultimate defeat. On the defensive end, the Nets were trailing 111-112, but a slip up by Jordan Farmar and Anthony Morrow gave the Knicks a wide open three, which they made. Our old friend Sebastian Pruiti takes a much closer look at this play on NBA Playbook, check that out when you have a moment.
On the Nets next trip, down now four 115-111, and with 35 seconds on the clock were in a great position to go for a 2 for 1 opportunity and needed their best quick hitting play, which I do believe they would have had, if executed properly.
For everything we love about Brook Lopez, and there is plenty, its clear he still has some limitations and weaknesses to his game, and in this case its his passing and vision that fails him. Let's take a closer look:
For this important possession, the Nets have Terrance Williams inbound the ball, Brook Lopez flashes to the high post where he receives it. Jordan Farmar is positioned on what becomes the strong side of the court, and Anthony Morrow (three point shooter, spreading floor) and Kris Humphries (offensive rebounder) are there to balance it out.
More after the jump.
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It was a quintessential tale of two halves Wednesday night at the TD Garden, as the New Jersey Nets fell 107-92 to the Boston Celtics to conclude the preseason with a record of 3-5. Each team played without one of its big men, as Jermaine O'Neal missed the game with an injury, and Avery Johnson elected to rest Brook Lopez along with Jordan Farmar for the final exhibition contest — right after I said you'd see a more solidified rotation representative of the regular-season plan this morning. Shows what I know. Derrick Favors pleasantly led the Nets with 16 points off the bench, and Paul Pierce paced Boston with 17.
The Nets looked great in the first half and took a 55-48 lead into the break. Then, for the 7 millionth time in the last three seasons, they lost the lead in the third quarter and couldn't recover from there, as Boston completely outplayed them with a 59-37 second-half scoring margin. It was refreshing to see the team play well in the absence of Lopez, but in typical fashion, the Nets couldn't hold it together.
In the first half, the Nets played polished basketball. They took good shots, hit the open looks, didn't turn the ball over, and played stingy defense. In the second half, not so much. While the team finished shooting 48 percent overall, the rate was much lower in the third and fourth periods. The team also hit only one of eight three-point attempts over the course of the game. If the Nets are going to come out strong, they'll need to learn to pace themselves for the entirety of the game. A two-faced effort like won't work during the regular season. That said, they did play the Celtics, one of the better teams in the league; ultimately, it's no big surprise that the Nets lost. Still, to have the game in hand like that and lose it is a discouraging image.
But enough about that. Let's look at some of the positives. Undoubtedly one of the most significant for the Nets was the play of the power forwards. Kris Humphries won the dice roll and got the start, and he responded splendidly, stuffing the box score with impressive dynamism. All told, he had 12 points on 5-of-8 shooting, 8 rebounds, 2 assists, 3 steals, and a block. If everyone's healthy, Humphries likely won't get all that much time on the court this season, but seeing that he's capable of games like this makes his exercising that $3.2 million player option this offseason much more tolerable. And if Favors ends up getting swapped for Carmelo Anthony or anyone else, Humphries can handle the load as a backup to Troy Murphy.
Joe Smith played 14 minutes in the game, and while he didn't make either of his two shots, he had an effect in the first half on the defensive end. He had his hands full with Boston's frontcourt, but he hung in there strong: he was partially responsible for holding Kevin Garnett to 6-of-14 shooting and forcing his 5 turnovers. Furthermore, his pick-and-roll defense was a model for the other players on the team. When he showed on guards coming off screens, he was a brick wall, stopping the guards in their tracks and throwing a wrench in the play. It's those little things that Smith can bring to the team without being a major force in the box score.
Then there's Favors. Regardless of the waffling opinions of his play thus far in the preseason, he had a pretty solid game tonight. His 16 points came on 5-of-7 shooting from the field and a perfect 6-of-6 from the charity stripe. He also had 4 boards and 2 rejections, but he still needs to learn to conserve his fouls. Committing four personals in 24 minutes is too many if he wants to stay on the floor for starter minutes. One benefit of the lopsided second half was that we got to see Favors as the go-to option on offense on several plays. Johnson isolated Favors on the block on several occasions, where he looked very comfortable with the ball. Even though he's only 19 and unequivocally raw, he has a confidence with the ball in his hands that's rare for young players. His back-to-the-basket moves are smooth, he's good at creating position, and he just looks like he belongs there. He just needs to work on the touch on his shots and kicking the ball out and reposting when he's too far from the basket instead of forcing a shot. Nevertheless, the future looks bright for him.
Devin Harris, Anthony Morrow, and Johan Petro each shot 4-of-7 from the field and combined for 32 points. Petro was especially surprising, as he put together quite a game with 8 points, 7 rebounds, and 2 blocks. Harris and Morrow are going to be two of the team's key scorers this season, and they're going to need to do better than 24 points combined in order for the team to win big games. Morrow hasn't quite hit his shooting groove yet and it seems that Harris is shying away from his usual reckless drives to the baskets to avoid injury in the preseason, so neither of them is a major concern for the team just yet.
A game after putting up just four shots against the Knicks, Travis Outlaw jacked up 11 against the Celtics. That would be a good sign ... except that he only converted on four of them — and he missed all three of his long-range tries. His shooting is one of his most important assets for the Nets, and he needs to hit his open looks to make the Nets' $35 million investment worth it. Terrence Williams was his typical self, contributing 12 points on 5-of-12 shooting in 15 minutes off the bench.
Stephen Graham, Damion James, and Ben Uzoh were essentially nonfactors, and it appears they'll be sitting toward the end of the bench when the season starts next week. In Uzoh's case, he might not even be on the bench. But Brian Zoubek's "DNP COACH'S DECISION" Wednesday night is a promising sign for the rookie point guard.
As the regular season quickly approaches, it's clear that the Nets have some things to work on, including trying to break the tradition of hitting the third-quarter wall. The four-game losing skid doesn't help either, but who knows how this game would have turned out if Lopez and Farmar had played or if the Celtics had leveled the playing field by resting two of their central rotation players? At any rate, it was good to get a taste of the new-look Nets, and there are myriad reasons to salivate over opening night against Detroit next Wednesday.
One source said that though that deal died, the Nets have "never been out of the mix" in discussions about Anthony, and that Denver was still trying to figure out a way to get either forward Andrei Kirienko from Utah, Charlotte's Gerald Wallace or the 76ers' Andre Iguodala in a package for Anthony. Kirilenko was part of the original four-team deal, and would have gone to Denver.
The source indicated that the talks between the teams have become less public in the last couple of weeks to allow new Nuggets general manager Masai Ujiri time to get his team's front office in order after the team did not renew the contracts of former GM Mark Warkentein and assistant GM Rex Chapman in August, and to take pressure off of the Nets players, like rookie forward Derrick Favors and point guard Devin Harris, who had been mentioned in potential deals.
Whether you want to see the trade happen or not, I just don't see the Nets front office (and Mikhail Prokhorov) letting the Knicks waltz in and get this deal done when the Nets have the assets to get it done themselves. Meanwhile, I'm still shocked that the conversation isn't focused more on how much Denver is demanding here, for a player who wants out.
The Nets round out their preseason schedule Wednesday night with a friendly against the Boston Celtics in the TD Garden. Coming off three straight preseason losses, the Nets look to bounce back against the top dogs of the Atlantic. In the team's preseason home opener, the Nets fell to Boston 96-92, as the Celtics provided a balanced scoring effort, paced by Glen Davis with 20 off the bench. Look to see the continuation of a more solidified rotation and minutes indicative of what guys will be doing in the future as Avery Johnson prepares to make the transition to the regular season, starting next Wednesday. The Celtics will be short Jermaine O'Neal, Delonte West, and possibly Marquis Daniels because of injuries.
Here are a few things to keep your eye on during the game:
It was a wild game last night in NYC and while the Nets showed some fight with a furious comeback in the 3rd quarter, they could not make enough plays in the end and fell 117-111 to the Knickerbockers. They've now lost 3 in a row and continue to have trouble putting together a complete game. The problem in China was scoring, when they were held under 90 in both games. Tonight it was clearly the defensive end that was the issue, as they gave up a combined 78 points in the 2nd and 4th quarters, and 117 for the game.
First things first, Joe Smith got the start again at power forward (as was expected), and he promptly took a charge on Amare on the first defensive possession of the game and then followed up an Anthony Morrow miss with a put back. If he can mirror that type of performance all season, he will give the Nets exactly what they envisioned when they acquired him. Brook Lopez looked like his normal self in the early going. He had a real nice running hook in the lane that must have made Knicks fans think of the days of Patrick Ewing, as Brook took at least two or three steps as he was strolling across the lane. After sitting the first 5 minutes, Derrick Favors came into the game, and promptly committed a foul. But on the next possession he showed his athleticism, beating Stoudemire down the floor to catch a sweet fastbreak feed from Devin Harris and slam it home. In the next minute, though, Favors committed two more fouls on Amare and had to come out of the game yet again. I realize this guy is very young and he will be good, but it gets increasingly frustrating to see him have to come out of the game so quickly after getting into foul trouble.
Anthony Morrow is a key piece to this team and his shooting will go a long way towards their offensive efficiency. With Harris' penetration and the production of Brook Lopez, that will certainly garner some double teams, he will get plenty of wide open three's. He got two in the first 7 minutes, and went 1-2. His overall shooting numbers last night were pretty poor at 3 for 10 for just 9 points and he knows he needs to make open shots with Terrence Williams breathing down his neck. Mark my word, if Morrow isn't effective at the shooting guard slot, T-Will is going to be a starter on this team (though I'm not exactly going out on a limb there).
Speaking of new acquisitions, Travis Outlaw and Jordan Farmar were on different ends of the spectrum last night. I'll start with the bad first. Everyone knows the Nets gave Outlaw an overblown contract at 35 mill for 5 years. But he needs to be more effective than he was against the Knicks. In 21 minutes he had just 5 points and took 4 shots. 4 shots?!?!?!? I know he isn't exactly the focal point of the offense but a starting small forward in the NBA needs to take more than 4 shots in a game. So now that we've got that out of the way let's get to Farmar, who was flat out fantastic.
The Knicks seemed to be in full control of this game from the late 2nd quarter to midway through the 3rd. But led by Farmar the Nets staged a furious comeback. He hit 3 three-pointers in the span of 2 minutes and 20 seconds and almost got the team back into the game by himself. His play in the second half was outstanding, and he finished with 21 points, 7 rebounds and 5 assists. He will obviously not play 28 minutes a night backing up Devin Harris, but the production the Nets got out of him last night was extremely solid. The one gripe I would have about his game was the number of shots he took. While he was shooting the ball very well, I'm a guy who is in favor of a pass-first point guard, and Farmar did jack up 16 shots.
Two of the main issues for this team have been scoring draughts and defensive lapses; two things that mix together like oil and water. The defensive lapse in this game clearly occurred in the 2nd quarter (although the 4th was a close second) when they gave up 41 points to the Knicks. With Mike D'Antoni's style, the Knicks put up a lot of shots and do score plenty of points, but the Nets should not be giving up that many to any team, let alone one with the Knicks' talent. Although the scoring draught last night wasn't as pronounced as it has been, when you give up 17 points in the last 3 minutes of the first half, you can't only score 2. The Nets were down 48-47 with 3:12 remaining in the 2nd quarter, but managed just a Terrence Williams layup while the Knicks got whatever they wanted and were able to push the lead out to 16 by halftime.
Coming into this game one thing I wanted to keep an eye on was the power forward matchup. While Favors showed some very positive signs, including an absolutely insane dunk, Amare had his way with the Nets trio of power forwards. From the minute the game started he seemed to be forcing the issue and was at the foul line. In the end he put up 39 points (a 2010 NBA-wide preseason high) and was 16-19 from the line. The Nets three power forwards had a combined 18 fouls to work with, and they used up 13 of them. To no one's surprise Mr. Favors fouled out again, though as I said he did do some good things tonight, especially in the Nets comeback in the 3rd.
The 4th quarter of this game was actually quite exciting for a preseason contest. The Nets took a 1-point lead into the final frame and through the first 8 minutes of the quarter, the spread was never more than 3. Yet like some other games in this preseason the Nets were not able to make as many plays down the stretch as their opponent. Down 5 with just under a minute left, the Nets were able to make the game very interesting with a great possession. After Farmar missed a jumper, Lopez got the offensive board, but instead of shooting the elbow jumper, he dumped it down to Kris Humphries who put it in and got fouled. What followed was nearly one of the best plays you will see off a missed free throw as Farmar just missed dunking it home off the miss. He did get the rebound though and put in the layup. The Nets defense was as poor in the last minute as it was all night however, as the Knicks got a Toney Douglas three to go back up by 4.
I talked about turnovers before this game and they continue to be a major issue. The Nets turned the ball over 21 times but the biggest by far was Brook Lopez's awful pass that was intended for Farmar with 30 seconds remaining. Douglas was a pain in the Nets side on defense throughout the game (the guy had 6 steals) and after he showed a quick double team at Lopez on the right elbow, Brook panicked a bit and tried to hit Farmar with a bounce pass towards the corner. But the second-year FSU product made a real nice play and recovered to Farmar to steal the ball, basically sealing the deal.
More thoughts after the jump.
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Despite the 117-111 loss to the Knicks last night, the good news is the beleaguered Nets bench stepped up their game a bit last night.
Derrick Favors had 12 points before fouling out in 19 minutes. Stefan Bondy captured an interesting exchanged between he and Avery Johnson:
“He tweaked his ankle a little bit, and I was just asking him if he’s injured of or is it hurting. He said it’s hurting. We talked to (the trainer), I said, okay, strapped up his sneaker a little bit harder,” Johnson said. “I was glad he fought through it - a 19-year-old rookie.”
What Favors did next - on the very next possession, in fact - was an alley-oop jam to highlight a 30-13 run for the Nets to start the second half.
Al Iannazzone talks to Devin Harris who was thrilled by the bench's performance:
“It’s great to see the bench playing well,’’ said Devin Harris, who sat the final 19:56 because Jordan Farmar went off and scored 21 points in that time. “The guys came and gave us great energy that third quarter. Jordan came in and gave us a tremendous effort. Terrence Williams found himself in the second half. Damion James came in and gave us quality minutes. We had a Derrick Favors sighting.”
Speaking of Farmar, our old friend Sebastian Pruiti does a little breakdown on a gamble the PG took down the stretch that resulted in the game clinching three for Toney Douglas.
Still, it's hard to beat up Farmar too much for his performance last night, and while Favors managed to pick up three fouls in his first two minutes, it was good to see that athleticism people talked so much about it. The biggest problem for this team offensively still seems to be the lack of gel amongst the starting five. I don't know what's going to improve that except time and patience.
Good afternoon Nets Fans! Tonight the team will cross the Hudson River into Manhattan to take on the rival New York Knicks for the first and only time this preseason. After a disappointing trip to the Far East where the Nets dropped both games to the Rockets, they will look to get back on track tonight at MSG. With the presence of new Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov, I think this rivalry will have some added juice again, and that could start tonight. The Nets play the Knicks "for real" for the first of four times this season on November 30th.
A few things to keep an eye on tonight:
The Nets seemingly made a few splashes to upgrade their PF depth this off-season, drafting Derrick Favors and trading for Troy Murphy. But with the season starting in about a week, the Nets are thin at the position, with Favors struggling and Murphy still hurting. Al Iannazzone reports that the starting nod could possibly go to 35-year-old journeyman Joe Smith:
"It’s a big question mark for us right now," Johnson said after Monday’s practice. "We’re trying to evaluate. We’ve given a few guys a chance to start. It’s going to be a revolving situation until Troy gets back."
Fortunately, the Nets received some good news yesterday and said that Murphy was making progress with his back strain, though his status for next week's opener is still in doubt:
New Jersey Nets forward Troy Murphy has made considerable progress following treatment for a low back strain/inflammation, but will not play in either of the Nets two preseason games this week against New York and Boston. Murphy is expected to resume practice with the team this weekend.
The PF position has been a place of weakness of the Nets for years now, and I was really counting on seeing that trend come to an end this season. While I still have confidence in Favors, the key is Murphy, who was going to bring a veteran stability (not to mention three-point shooting and rebounding) to the floor. I think the Nets will also look a lot less lost on offense once Murphy is back and playing his game.
There are plenty of new things about the New Jersey Nets this season. They will begin their first regular season at the Prudential Center in Newark at the end of this month, playing under new owner Mikhail Prokhorov, with a host of new players on the roster. But my question will be the same as it has been over the past decade: Will anyone actually show up for Nets home games?
Let me give you a little bit of background before you continue reading. I was lucky enough to have season tickets for about 10 years from the late 1990s through the mid-2000s. I went to anywhere from 15-30 (depending on Playoff runs) games with my father each season, and to say we were diehards would be an understatement. There were some great games (2003 Eastern Conference Finals Game 4) and some tough ones (2004 Eastern Conference Semis Game 6) but I always found myself asking the same question when attending these games: Where are all the fans? Sure the place would be full in the regular season against teams like the Knicks and Lakers, but often times the fans of those teams would be louder than the Nets fans. The Playoffs were different of course, and that concrete dungeon in the Meadowlands was actually rocking at times. But I remember Game 1 of the First Round in 2002, when it wasn't even a sellout. This was the first playoff game for the top seed in the East, a very exciting team that had a great season led by Jason Kidd. It was arguably the highest point the New Jersey Nets franchise had ever reached (before the run to the Finals) and Continental Airlines Arena (at the time) was still 1,500 fans short of a sellout. As a fan I wanted to see the Nets win and play well, but I also wanted to see others around New Jersey get excited about the team and support them as I did.
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